Baghdad, Asharq Al-Awsat –High level sources have informed Asharq Al-Awsat that Nuri al-Maliki’s State of Law coalition has sent a delegation to the National Iraqi Alliance that is led by Ammar al-Hakim to inform it that it may withdraw from its alliance in order to form a new alliance with Iyad Allawi’s Iraqiya bloc. The delegation also reportedly informed al-Hakim’s coalition that the State of Law coalition is also attempting to move closer to the Kurdish Alliance, in what represents the most intense period of tension between the State of Law coalition and the National Iraqi Alliance.
A senior source who spoke to Asharq Al-Awsat on the condition of anonymity revealed that “the delegation was led by Abdul Halim al Zuhairi, who is a well-known senior member of the Dawa party and also one of its founders, and the message carried by al Zuhairi to al-Hakim’s coalition was to the effect that al-Maliki will form an agreement with the Iraqiya bloc in order to form a government.”
In conjunction with this, other sources have confirmed that during a meeting yesterday al-Maliki informed one of his ministers that he will form an agreement with the Iraqiya bloc in order to form a government.
Al-Maliki, who won 89 parliamentary seats in Iraq’s March elections, previously formed an alliance with the National Iraqi Alliance in order to head the largest parliamentary bloc and prevent the Iraqiya bloc – which won 91 parliamentary seats – from attempting to form the next government of Iraq. However this alliance between al-Maliki and al-Hakim failed to come to an agreement upon who should be nominated for the position of prime minister, with al-Maliki insisting on retaining the premiership, and al-Hakim attempting to limit the powers of prime minister. It was this which forced al-Maliki to look to the Iraqiya bloc and conduct talks as a first step towards forming a coalition government made up of the two parties.
Despite the sources confirmation, Mohamed al-Bayati, a member of the National Iraqi Alliance has denied that his party received any such message from al-Maliki. He told Asharq Al-Awsat that “despite the difficulties being faced by the mechanism to select a National Iraqi Alliance candidate for the post of prime minister…meetings are ongoing to overcome obstacles.” However in a veiled reference to the Iraqiya bloc, al-Bayati hinted that in the event of the process of choosing a prime minister ending in failure, the parties must look in other directions.
As for the al-Maliki and al-Hakim alliance, which is an unofficial alliance and therefore does not preclude al-Maliki’s State of Law coalition from allying with Allawi’s Iraqiya bloc, al-Bayati told Asharq Al-Awsat that “any alliance with the Iraqiya bloc would also be unofficial, and the problem is who will have the greater portion of parliamentary votes [to obtain] the post that they will stand for.” He added that ‘all political blocs are facing a big test because they are facing external and internal pressures, and whoever succeeds in overcoming these pressures will have a position in the forthcoming vote.”
For his part, senior member of the Iraqiya bloc Fatah al-Sheikh confirmed that the convergence between the State of Law coalition and the Iraqiya bloc “is not targeting any political party, and that delegations between the two parties are working day and night to end the negotiations within the next 10 days, and this is a timeframe that leads up to the sitting of the second parliamentary sessions that is expected to be called within the next few days.”
Al-Sheikh also confirmed to Asharq Al-Awsat that the new alliance between the two blocs remains in the early stages and that “until now they are not very close [to one another], nor are they very remote [from one another].” He said that the goal of this alliance is to form a national partnership government that includes all [political] components, including those who have an influence upon Iraqi society but failed to win a parliamentary seat. Al-Sheikh also indicated that any State of Law coalition – Iraqiya bloc alliance constitutionally only requires 36 additional parliamentary seats to form a government, which includes the nomination for prime minister, president, and parliamentary speaker. Al-Sheikh also told Asharq Al-Awsat that dialogue is ongoing with the Kurdish Alliance, who will be a major partner in any future government, as well as with the National Iraqi Alliance, the Unity Alliance of Iraq, and all other political blocs.