Allawi Wins


From Iraqi Pundit Allawi Wins
The announcement came slowly and painfully, but it came. We were happy to learn that Allawi won 91 seats, and Maliki won 89. I think the Shiite Alliance won 71. Maliki gave a speech that showed him to be a sore loser. He will give Allawi a hard time.

The Iraqi people definitely want Maliki to hand over peacefully. Even Ayatollah Sistani said the handover must be peaceful.

Because of the close numbers, the politicians will form coalitions. Maliki will join up with the Shiite Alliance. Allawi will join up with the Kurds. At least that's what everyone is saying.

In the streets people are celebrating. They sang songs, beeped their horns, fired guns, and some even chanted anti-Maliki slogans. At least in Mansour they did; I can't say for the rest of Baghdad. The celebrations have been quieted by rain. In this part of the world, rain is considered a blessing. It seems somehow appropriate that the day ends in rain.

Iraqis can see that their votes mean something. This really is an amazing day.
And The Day After
The rain continues today with the happiness that people feel about Allawi's win. Everyone had grown tired of Maliki's government. Sure he did good things for a while, but he turned out to be sectarian, which is something Iraqis don't want.

When I read the western papers online, I get the impression that war is around the corner. I also love WaPo's description of the situation as "the country's fledgling political system." Why is WaPo afraid to say democracy? We might as well all pack up and leave the Iraq that is about to burst into hellish flames. That's the outsider view.

Here people are optimistic. It's true that Maliki is acting like a sore loser. But in all fairness he says he will challenge the results in court. He didn't say he would take up arms. And of course people worry about al-Qaeda who made it clear they don't care who wins, they plan to keep killing Iraqis. And people fear Moktada Al Sadr's Jaish al Mahdi and its offshoot Asa'b ahl al Haq. They are likey to keep up their wicked deeds. But if the Iraqi Army and police feel like they are working for their country, they will work to protect the people against terror.

Under Maliki, plenty of ordinary workers didn't know whether they were working for Iran or Iraq. Too many of Maliki's top advisers took their orders from Iran. Now at least they can have a prime minister who puts Iraq first.

If Allawi unites with the Kurds and the smaller parties, he can have a strong bloc. Maliki can unite with the Shiite Alliance and also have a strong bloc. Maliki can't say he's been shut out when he continues to have a strong voice in parliament. By the way, the breakdown of who got what seats is supposed to be posted on this site today. However it breaks down, the Iraqi people won a huge victory.
My bold. This is true. Maliki was never quite Qom's man unlike many around him. Qom swung around to back him rather late on.

This is a very interesting result. Allawi is a pretty secular Westward looking Shiite with generous friends in Riyahd. He appears to be capable of an accommodation with the Sunni something that was quiet beyond Maliki. The Sadrists also did well, with up to 40 seats nearly equaling the Kurds. His Chubbiness was also running on an essentially Iraqi nationalist ticket. Iran's closest chums the ISCI are a fading force.

More details from Reidar Visser here.
Also, some extra uncertainty has been added to the mix due to a ruling by the federal supreme court yesterday which explicitly makes it clear that the key definition of "the largest bloc in parliament" (which is supposed to form the next government) can also include post-election bloc formation. This in turn breathes new life into the scenario preferred by Iran of the two Shiite-led blocs, INA and SLA, joining together to a single big entity, on the pattern of what happened in 2004/2005. Talks about this has come to the fore again over the last weeks as Maliki gradually realised that his ambition of going it alone, separate from the other Shiites, was not going to be fulfilled quite in the way he had foreseen. It would, however, require considerable recalibration within Shiite circles, since the Sadrists are likely to overshadow ISCI in the INA contingent, and they are not known to be keen on a second Maliki premiership. Nonetheless, the mere fact that this option is now being talked about at all signifies the big irony of these elections: Ali Faysal al-Lami, the de-Baathification director, both lost and won them to some extent. He got just a few hundred personal votes for INA in Baghdad, and will not win a seat in parliament. But through his witch hunt he forced Maliki into a more sectarian corner, and thereby prevented him from winning much-needed support north of Baghdad.
I'd put it stronger than that. Chalabi and al-Lami with their de-Baathfication antics may have handed Baghdad to a man closer to Riyahd than Qom, their scheming Persian masters will not be pleased at all.


parapauk said:
Maliki only needs to do one thing now to be remembered as one of the greatest Iraqis in history: walk away quietly
Already has a claim to that. Given the very narrow margins I doubt if he'll quit easily, man's a bruiser just like Allawi not Al Gore.

He already initiated a nice little knight move with the the Supreme court.
The fact that Mr. Maliki went to the Supreme Court in advance of the final election results is an indication that he was aware of the possibility that Mr. Allawi would likely win a plurality. Formally, the court said in its decision that the prime minister’s office had asked for “a definition of the term, ‘the parliamentary bloc with the most members’ ” in Article 76. The 211-word-long ruling said the question was whether that term in Article 76 meant the bloc that won the most seats in the election, or the bloc that is later gathered together by the time the new parliament meets — and it decreed that the latter interpretation was the correct one. The court said it based its decision on an analysis of the wording of the article and of other similar articles in the constitution, but it did not go into detail.
Deserves credit in its way. This is the third most corrupt country in the world and the incumbent is resorting to sly legal trickery rather than ballot stuffing or staging a military coup. I'm tearing up here... it could be New Jersey.
I'm tearing up here... it could be New Jersey.

I'm not sure if you intended that as a serious comment (this being the internet where sarcasm doesn't translate well), but if you were serious I wouldn't blame you one bit.


Juan Cole Sadrists Pivotal Party, Vows Liberation of Iraq from Foreigners;
Tehran attempts to Broker Alliance

Al-Hayat reports in Arabic on the emergence of the Sadr Movement as the largest Shiite party within the Shiite fundamentalist coalition, the Iraqi National Alliance. The Free Independent (al-Ahrar) party that represented the Sadrists won 38 seats out of the 70 that the INA garnered, making the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, the Islamic Virtue Party and other Shiite religious components of the list much smaller and less weightier in the coalition's deliberations.

No sooner, the article says, than the election tallies began coming in did the government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki begin gradually releasing Sadrist prisoners who had been in Iraqi penitentiaries for years. Al-Hayat's sources say that in Babil Province, orders were received from the government to release members of the Sadr Movement, in an attempt to mollify that group.

Sadrist leader Liqa' Al-Yasin said that the Sadrists have now become the spinal column of the Iraqi National Alliance. He said that the movement had demonstrated that it had a large public base, and asserted that that base is cultured, aware, and abiding by the principles both of Islamic Law and the Nation. Al-Yasin said that the Sadrists would work for the liberation of Iraq and the realization of national sovereignty. [Translation: they want US troops out of their country tout de suite.] He adds that other goals are to gain the release of prisoners and to take some of the burdens off the shoulders of ordinary citizens. Sadrist leaders said that "the next phase will concentrate on political action to end the Occupation altogether."

Another Sadrist leader said that the movement has foresworn violence and that they would not take up arms again save in situation of dire necessity.

al-Hayat is also reporting that a couple of days ago representatives of the Sadr Movement and of al-Maliki's State of Law met in Tehran in an Iranian-backed attempt quickly to form a new Shiite-dominated government. In Iran for the talks were President Jalal Talibani and his Shiite vice president, Adil Abdel Mahdi of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq.

This move underlines the way in which Iraq's election has geopolitical as well as local significance. Also that Iran is sitting pretty while the US prepares to withdraw.
Actually I'd say Qom looks discomfited. They are in damage limitation mode trying to clear up the mess Ahmad "Harami" Chalabi made of rigging the vote with his de-Baathification antics, it's backfired so badly you'd think the slippery old bugger was moonlighting for Riyahd. Maliki is far from Qom's first choice but someone they can work with especially if his political survival is hostage to them.

Allawi with his chums in Riyahd and old Baathist links is a tougher proposition. He's in a better position to play the regional balance of power in constructing the necessary relationship with Qom who will worry he's a stepping stone towards the Sunni revanche Riyahd desires. He probably can't risk a maximalist approach to Qom's many Iraqi assets, patience and stealth will be needed to dispose of the worst of them, deals will have to be made with most.

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