London, Asharq Al-Awsat- Asmaa al-Mousawi, a high-ranking member of the Sadrist trend that is led by Iraqi cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, revealed that the movement had received a number of assurances prior to it joining the Iraqi National Alliance, which replaces the United Iraqi Alliance. These assurances ensure that there is no repeat of the “mistakes” of the United Iraqi Alliance which resulted in the withdrawal of one party from the coalition, and the split of another. These assurances include the Sadrist trend being offered high-ranking positions in government should the Shiite coalition win the forthcoming parliamentary elections in Iraq.
The Sadrist trend withdrew from the United Iraqi Alliance in protest against the monopoly on decision-making held by the larger parties in the coalition, such as the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq party which is led by Abdulaziz al-Hakim, and Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s Islamic Dawa party.
The Sadrist trend not only withdrew from the United Iraqi Alliance, it also withdrew its ministers from Nuri al-Maliki’s government, demanding the withdrawal of US forces from Iraq. The Islamic Virtue party also withdrew, and has decided against contenting the forthcoming elections with the ruling Shiite coalition, rather it has announced its own alliance with former Speaker of the Iraqi Council of Representatives, Mahmoud al-Mashhadai.
Asmaa Al-Mousawi informed Asharq Al-Awsat that “the new alliance differs in structure and substance from the old alliance. Its configuration is different, and is now similar to the majority of Iraqi parties…this is important for it shows the Iraqi public that they are taking part in managing the political situation in Iraq.”
As for the assurances which were provided to the Sadrist trend in order to ensure a lack of “autocracy” in the decision-making process by the larger parties, al-Mousawi revealed that “the internal system provides for the establishment of special committees which are made up of all parties involved [in the coalition] which will make the decisions. Decisions will be made by majority vote, and this ensures that no party in the coalition will be marginalized.”
She added “the current alliance does not represent a political bloc that desires [only] to take part in these parliamentary elections, or provincial elections. Rather [the new Iraqi National Alliance] is a political bloc that aims to extricate Iraq from the tragic political situation that has lasted in the country for 6 years. During these years, no organization was able to extricate Iraq from its situation without factional and party alignment.”
Al-Mousawi indicated to Asharq Al-Awsat that there would be a number of changes in the Iraqi National Alliance including an “internal system that provides details on how to deal with the executive government that will [potentially] emerge from the alliance. The previous alliance did not hold the executive government that derived from it accountable, and this led to a kind of political exchanging of pleasantries between the larger parties.”
She also spoke of the formation of the so-called “four-party alliance” between the two main Shiite parties, the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq party, and the Islamic Dawa party, and the two main Kurdish parties. Al-Mousawi said that the formation of this Shiite – Kurdish alliance “comes at the expense of the efficiency and achievements of the executive branch, as there is a theme of many Iraqi ministers who are corrupt and incompetent.”
Al-Mousawi added “the internal formation of the new Iraqi National Alliance, includes approval of all electoral candidates for any executive position, and for there to be an annual review of each minister’s efficiency and ability, and the achievements that he has made [during the year].”
Al-Mousawi, also revealed that this internal procedure also includes “not granting all high-ranking governmental positions to one party, but for all parties in the alliance to participate [in government], as well as active participation in decision-making.’ She also noted that “we were cautious about taking up high-ranking governmental positions, but after the application of the Security Agreement [which led to the withdrawal of US troops]; this opens the door for the Sadrist trend to take up these positions [once more].”
Al-Mousawi confirmed to Asharq Al-Awsat “there is nothing to prevent the Sadrist trend from participating in the next government; we pulled out last time because we wanted to set an example. It is expected that some high-ranking positions will be obtained, depending upon [a candidates] competency. In the past, the US occupation prevented [the Sadrist trend from participating in government] but following the withdrawal of US forces, there is nothing to prevent the Sadrist trend from participating in government.”
The United Iraqi Alliance was first formed in the run-up to the first Iraqi parliamentary elections which took place in January 2005. This resulted in the formation of the Ibrahim al-Jaafari government which witnessed the first stages of sectarian violence in Iraq. The second United Iraqi Alliance was formed to participate in the second parliamentary elections which took place at the end of 2005, and which resulted in the formation of the al-Maliki government.
Al-Mousawi indicated to Asharq Al-Awsat that the parties in the Iraqi National Alliance agree “to a return to the achievements of the 2005 [United Iraqi Alliance] coalition where there was distribution of power and broad participation in the decision-making process. This was a great achievement in comparison to the situation that the 2006 coalition reached.
Al-Mousawi concluded by saying that the Sadrist trend had not put any conditions on the identity of the next Prime Minister, should the coalition win at the forthcoming election, only that it was expected that the alliance would put forward “one candidate who will be supported by all the parties in the alliance.” This is a clear reference to the predicted candidate, Adel Abdul Mahdi, a high-ranking member of the Supreme Council of Iraq party, and the current vice-president of Iraq.
The Iraqi National Alliance is the majority Shiite coalition which replaces the United Iraqi Alliance, and which at this point excludes Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and his [Shiite] Islamic Dawa party.