The political crisis in Iraq seems to have become permanent, as conflict between different parties continues to escalate. Having transformed from a dispute between parties of the Iraqi List and Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki’s State of Law, the current clash between the Kurdistan Alliance and the Sadr movement is the latest setback in efforts to form a united government in Iraq. The Iraqi List unveiled last week in the presence of more than 180 deputies sparked moved to replace Al Maliki. This consensus stems from talks held in Arbil and Najaf in April and May, with follow-up discussions to be held in Arbil in the coming weeks. It is an attempt to put an end to instability in Iraq. Despite frequent meetings, Iraqi politicians have failed to find a way out of the political crisis, resorting to tabling no-confidence motions against the government.
Some believe that the political crisis has deepened since the American withdrawal from Iraq. A member of the Iraqi List, MP Ahmad Al Masary, said: “If things get to the process of withdrawal of confidence from Al Maliki, the required number of no-confidence votes are available, even some members of the ruling National Alliance agree with this decision.” Thus, the National Alliance has two options: either to respond positively and allow the government to proceed in executing this agreement or allow the coalition to nominate a substitute for Al Maliki and form a new government headed by the alternative candidate.
MP Hassan Al Allawi in the Iraqi parliament asserted that the opponents of Al Maliki have 200 seats in parliament, adding that this withdrawal of confidence will cause Al Maliki and his party to lose. He revealed that Al Maliki’s coalition is under the impression that “their opponents do not have more than 120 seats in parliament, divided between the Sadrists, the Coalition and Iraqi Kurdistan”. He went further to say that “the National Alliance has no choice but to resort to the leader of the Islamic Supreme Council, Adel Abdul Mahdi, as the alternative to Al Maliki who is acceptable to the Kurds and the Sadrist movement ...””
The representatives of the Kurdistan Alliance and the Iraqi List and the parties in the National Alliance last week met the leader of the Sadrist movement, Moqtada Al Sadr in his home province of Najaf to further discuss the issue. The meeting was the second of its kind in Najaf and followed a meeting held in Arbil by President Jalal Talabani, Iraqi Kurdistan Region President Massoud Barzani, the Iraqi leader Eyad Allawi, the Al Sadr, and the parliament speaker Osama Nujaifi on April 28. Talabani called upon the political parties to get involved in the agreements being made in regard to the current government.
At the meeting in Arbil it was made clear that the option to withdraw confidence from the current government would be exercised if Al Maliki did not respond to the requests of other parties as stated in the letter within 15 days.
In retaliation the State of Law announced an initiative to collect 163 signatures to remove Nujaifi from office because of his “incompetence” in the managing parliamentary sessions and his propensity to “impede” the work of the government. However, the Kurdistan Alliance spoke out last Wednesday saying that they will not participate in the dismissal of Nujaifi in the case before the vote, saying that the issue of dismissal is simply an attempt to divert attention from the meetings in Arbil and Najaf and an the escalation of the crisis by the State of Law.
The Iraqi situation depends on the future of the political process in the country, including the subject of withdrawal of confidence, which hinders the development of projects announced by the government. The leaders of the religious authority in Najaf and Karbala can act but they stand against the nominations of any figure not involved in their parties. The constitutional mechanisms for the withdrawal of confidence will freeze the political process and future development. Al Maliki appears from the exterior as being very calm in a boiling situation.
Dr Shakir Noori is a journalist and writer based a Dubai.