London, Asharq Al-Awsat- A source in the Iraqi National Alliance disclosed that “35 members of the State of Law Coalition [SLC] headed by outgoing Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki have contacted the IISC and expressed their determination to split off from the SLC and join any alliance that brings together the Al-Iraqiya Coalition, led by former Iraqi Prime Minister Dr Iyad Allawi, and the IISC, including the Al-Sadr movement led by Muqtada al-Sadr”. The source pointed out that “there are deep differences within Al-Maliki’s coalition because he insists on nominating himself to head the next government. The first sign exposing these differences is the resignation of Tariq Najm Abdullah, the director of Al-Maliki’s office, who is described as the strongman in the prime minister’s office, the Al-Dawa Party, and the SLC”.
The source that requested anonymity revealed to Asharq Al-Awsat in a telephone interview from Baghdad, “The statements were made by circles within the SLC, the IISC, and the Al-Sadr Trend after the iftar [breaking the Ramadan fast] dinner that Al-Maliki hosted in honor of the National Alliance last Monday and that was not attended by the Al-Sadr Trend. These statements are conflicting. Some were optimistic about the return of normalcy between the two coalitions within the National Alliance. Al-Maliki entertained hopes of remaining in his position while the IISC is backing its candidate Dr Adel Abdel Mahdi for the post of prime minister. However, the Al-Sadr Trend rejects both candidates – Al-Maliki and Abdel Mahdi- and backs its candidate Ibrahim al-Jaafari, the leader of the National Reform Trend and former Iraqi prime minister. Moreover, Al-Jaafari is not backed by either the IISC or the SLC or even the Kurdish Alliance that exerted strong efforts to remove him from the premiership of the former government.
Meanwhile, the Al-Iraqiya List rejects all these candidates and clings to its constitutional right to form the government insisting that it was the first winner in the elections.” Several statements had been made by leaders in the SLC and the National coalition that said that the stands of the sides of the National Alliance regarding the nomination of the prime minister are still at point zero. Ali al-Adib, one of Al-Dawa Party leaders, affirmed “no political negotiations were held during the invitation for iftar for which Al-Maliki had called”. However Vice President Abdel Mahdi explained that the position of the National Alliance has not changed about nominating Al-Maliki. This was also emphasized by the Al-Sadr Trend that strongly rejects Al-Maliki’s candidacy”. The member of the National Alliance said: “The resignation of Tariq Najm Abdullah, Al-Maliki’s office director and keeper of his secrets and classified files and member of the Al-Dawa Party and of the SLC, is the result of differences within Al-Maliki’s coalition”. He pointed out that Abdullah – who is described as the strong in the prime minister’s office to such a degree that some government officials and politicians deal with him as if his stands and rejection of some decisions are very important because they pave the way for Al-Maliki’s rejection or approval – had proposed himself as an alternate to Al-Maliki and as the SLC’s second candidate for the premiership. He personally mentioned this in several gatherings and some actually mentioned his name, especially in Tehran that he visits regularly. Such documented reports have reached the leader of the SLC who does not brook any competition even if the source of this competition is the keeper of his secrets and director of his office. Al-Maliki gave Abdullah the choice of either dismissal or resignation and he chose the latter”. The source added: “Several leaders in Al-Maliki’s coalition aspire to be the second candidate or the alternative to the leader of the SLC in heading the next government. These include Haydar al-Abbadi, a leading member of the Al-Dawa Party, and outgoing Oil Minister Hussein al-Shahrastani”. The source went on to say that “such aspirations are kept secret or debated in private gatherings”.
In a related development, Shakir Kitab, official spokesman of the Tajdid Movement headed by Tariq al-Hashimi, vice president and a leading member of the Al-Iraqiya Coalition: “The Al-Iraqiya Coalition is tightly cohesive despite the attempts to divide it and despite the enticements being made to this or that side”. Kitab responded to press statements by Al-Iraqiya member Hasan Al-Alawi who had said: “There are conflicts of interests among the components of the list that may reach the stage of bloodshed. Al-Iraqiya needs three months to overcome the stage of naming its candidates to occupy ministerial portfolios while other lists do not have this problem”. Kitab responded: “Al-Iraqiya is strongly cohesive. Its leaders do not think of their personal interests or about positions. They are concerned for the interest of Iraq and the Iraqis. Their main concern is not to betray their voters and not to concede the constitutional and electoral obligation to form the next government since their list came first in the legislative elections”.