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Iraqi VP says Al-Maliki’s Election Victory “Not Big” | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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London, Asharq Al-Awsat – Iraqi vice president and Iraqi Islamic Supreme Council [IISC] leader, Dr Adil Abdul-Mahdi, has described the recent local elections as “yet another experience to enhance the new Iraqi reality.” He noted that “the more electoral activities are carried out the more the Iraqi mind will be trained in using elections as a means for change, choosing officials, and holding them accountable.” He added: “This is why I consider this election a good experience that reinforces the democratic state of affairs in Iraq and that sets the stage for a new kind of social awareness that this country lacked in the past.”

Asked about reports that a “big victory” was achieved in the election by candidates from Prime Minister and head of the Islamic Da’wah Party Nuri al-Maliki’s list, the Iraqi vice president told Asharq Al-Awsat: “Yes. A victory was achieved, but it was not big.” He added: “According to the preliminary election results, the brothers in the Da’wah Party won five governorates and the IISC won five governorates.” He explained: “The brothers in the Da’wah Party scored their winning points in the Governorates of Baghdad, Basra, Al-Nasiriyah, Al-Kut, and Al-Diwaniyah, where the IISC ranked second.” He added: “However, the Da’wah Party came second in the Governorates of Al-Najaf, Karbala, Al-Hillah, Al-Samawah, and Misan.”

Abdul-Mahdi said that he believes that “the IISC and the Da’wah Party are dutifully obliged to rectify their situation in a balanced manner.” He explained: “Both of them can claim that they have achieved victory because of their win in governorates where they had lost in the past.” He added: “Both parties can claim to be partners and rivals in the arena in which their power is centred, namely, the southern regions in general, and the capital Baghdad in particular.”

The IISC leader said: “Both sides did not achieve the anticipated number of votes. The Da’wah Party did not break the one million vote barrier and the IISC received even less votes, much less than the number they achieved in previous elections.” He added: “Apart from the Da’wah Party’s history, struggle, and supporters, Al-Maliki’s win is attributed to the fact that he competed in the election as prime minister and used the power and reputation he enjoys as prime minister, a post that carries great weight and that has played a major role in this achievement.”

Abdul-Mahdi believes that it is “unlikely that the United Iraqi Alliance, with which the IISC and the Da’wah Party are affiliated, will be dissolved.” He said: “This situation might strengthen the coalition and create a more proper approach in dealing with political affairs.” He added: “As I mentioned, it is possible for the IISC and the Da’wah Party to be rivals and partners at the same time, similar to the situation in the Kurdish arena.” He went on: “This will allow for a more political and a less ideological approach in dealing with political affairs, as well as with local and national alliances.” He said that “the IISC and the Da’wah Party are major organizations in the Shiaa arena and have been the centre of activity in it. These two parties will remain as two main players for sometime, until more and more developments take place in the structure of the Iraqi political forces and until the Iraqi experience matures.” He added: “In general, no changes have taken place in this regard as a result of the various programs or even the secondary alliances that each side has built with other parties.”

Asked about whether or not the election results and the statements made by the IISC leader and Al-Maliki will cause deterioration in their relations, Abdul-Mahdi said: “Differences of opinion do not damage friendly relations. Al-Maliki is a friend and a brother.” He added: “He is affiliated with the Da’wah Party and I am affiliated with the IISC, and we hold ongoing meetings. We both belong to the United Iraqi Alliance, and we hold ongoing meetings. He is the prime minister and I am the vice president, and we hold ongoing meetings.” He said: “We have known each other for three decades and a relationship of brotherhood and friendship brings us together.” He added: “Political differences are one thing and political action is another.” He went on: “As our differences become more obvious they will serve as a better token of our brotherhood and friendship, because having differences means having things in common.”

Concerning secular forces and whether or not they have achieved victory over Islamic forces, the IISC leader said: “I have made it clear on several occasions that I have reservations over the use of the expressions ‘Islamic’ and ‘secular.'” He added: “I believe that the vast majority of the Iraqi people are Muslims. They are all Muslims. However, there are Muslims whose civil life – including politics – is governed by the Islamic notion, and there are Muslims whose civil life is not governed by the Islamic notion; rather they basically use the nationalistic notion or the notion of class and so on.” He said: “The talk about the deterioration of religious parties or the progression of independents or non-Islamists requires careful examination.”

Regarding the effect of election results on the distribution of forces in Shiaa regions, Abdul-Mahdi said that “this will depend on the agreements that will be reached after authenticating the results.” He added: “As a preliminary position, we have no red lines against anyone and we believe that everyone must participate. Everyone must achieve victory. As a matter of fact, competent people who have lost must also be allowed to participate.” He said: “The more the democratic experience is reinforced in Iraq the more beneficial this will be for the region.” He added: “Arab quarters will examine the political, economic, and future results of this election.” He went on: “We must wait for the announcement of the final election results and see how the local political map will be reshaped, and the impact that these changes will have on the national political map. This is in addition to the effect that this entire process will have on Iraqi policy and on the way in which Iraq’s environs will deal with it.”