Baghdad, Asharq Al-Awsat – At the same time that parties within Ammar al-Hakim’s National Iraqi Alliance [NIA] confirmed that negotiations with Nuri al-Maliki’s State of Law coalition [SLC] is close to being resumed, the National Iraqi Alliance is preparing to put forward three candidates to compete with al-Maliki for the post of Prime Minister as part of the National Alliance that is made up of the two parties.
Baha al-Araji, a senior member of the Ahrar bloc within the Sadrist movement, which itself is part of the National Iraqi Alliance said that “parties within the NIA are convinced that the National Alliance is the only option for those parties within it to form a new government.” As for the National Iraqi Alliance vetoing al-Maliki’s nomination, al-Araji said that there is “a kind of agreement within the NIA with regards to al-Maliki’s nomination.” He also referred to the “approval of the nomination of any female figures on the grounds that they have the right to stand for this position [Prime Minister] and in order for the next Prime Minister to be acceptable to all political parties in the country; however we find it difficult to accept al-Maliki.”
Al-Araji also revealed that “the National Iraqi Alliance will put forward its candidates Ibrahim Jaafari, Adel Abdel Mahdi, and Ahmed Chalabi, for the position of Prime Minister, to compete with the State of Law candidate [Nuri al-Maliki].” As for the mechanism that will be followed with regards to how the National Alliance candidate will be chosen, al-Araji said “there are mechanisms in place through which the National Alliance candidate can be chosen for this position, but there has been no agreement between the two parties [of the National Alliance] until now.”
In a statement to the press, Mohamed al-Bayati, a member of the National Iraqi Alliance, confirmed that “the State of Law coalition rejects the [National Alliance] mechanism whereby a prime ministerial candidate must obtain 80 percent of votes of the ruling commission (which is mad up of 18 members of both parties).” He also said that he “does not know whether this mechanism will be adopted or whether the National Alliance will rely upon other mechanisms including compromise and agreement with regards to who has the most votes within the National Iraqi Alliance and the State of Law coalition.”
On the other hand, Haidar al-Suwaidi, who is also a member of the National Iraqi Alliance, confirmed that the political atmosphere between the NIA and the State of Law coalition signals a return to the operation of the joint-committees that had previously been established by the National Alliance. Al-Suwaidi told Asharq Al-Awsat that he expects the two parties “to put forward prime ministerial candidates in the coming days (two candidates for each party).”
The National Iraqi Alliance had announced the suspension of its negotiations with the State of Law coalition in July, saying that dialogue between the two parties would remain suspended until the SLC put forward a candidate other than Nuri al-Maliki.
In addition to this, Izzat Shabandar of al-Maliki’s State of Law coalition confirmed to Asharq Al-Awsat that “the Sadrist movement has now adopted the view that the National Iraqi Alliance will put forward more than one candidate, including al-Maliki (as the State of Law candidate) and therefore the red line has become green with regards to the latter [i.e. al-Maliki’s nomination].” Shabandar also revealed that “after more than one candidate is put forward we move towards a mechanism through which one candidate is elected for the National Alliance to take to parliament.” On the subject of the return of dialogue between the NIA and the SLC, Shabandar told Asharq Al-Awsat that “the talk that was suspended with the State of Law coalition who returned to put him [al-Maliki] on the table once more, and therefore the talks will resume.” He added that “the National Alliance remaining active is more important than any name being put forward for the position of Prime Minister.”
As for the fate of the State of Law coalition’s negotiations with the Iraqiya bloc that is led by Iyad Allawi, Shabandar said that “the success of the dialogue with the Iraqiya bloc will have national results and result in genuine future unity, however the State of Law coalition’s agreement with the National Iraqi Alliance could push Iraq back to square one, especially on the issues of participation and sectarianism.”
For his part, a government source close to the negotiations between the Iraqiya bloc and the State of Law coalition revealed that the dialogue between them “is ongoing” and that “it is moving at a good pace.” He also added that “the dialogue between the Iraqiya bloc and the State of Law coalition is ongoing whether this is in Baghdad or Amman, and on a positive note they may be close to discussing sensitive issues especially with regards to sharing power and authority between the two parties.”