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At Long Last, Tehran Gets Its Alliance and the Clock Is Turned Back to 2005 in Iraq

Reidar Visser


May 4, 2010

Ever since the provincial elections in January 2009, Iran has worked steadfastly [PDF] to revive the then-defunct United Iraqi Alliance (UIA), the sectarian Shiite alliance that was created back in 2004 and that largely collapsed in 2007. After Ahmad Chalabi played an initial role in bringing  the Sadrists and ISCI back together in the first part of 2009, the final reunification took place Tuesday night in Baghdad when the State of Law list headed by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki joined the other Shiites to form a single parliamentary bloc. The successful revival of the de-Baathification agenda was probably the key factor in destroying the promising tendencies of a more nationalist and less sectarian approach by Maliki in 2009.

Few details about the reunion have been published so far (and notably no PM candidate), but it is known that it was held at the house of Ibrahim al-Jaafari. Jaafari came out with the best result in the informal Sadrist referendum for the next prime minister that was held earlier.

It is expected that the new alliance (which so far does not appear to have a name or a bloc leader) will claim the right to form a government despite the fact that it was created after the elections and thus in disregard of the electorate (which was not told much about this prospect during the brief campaign). The all-Shiite bloc will likely turn to the Kurds next, but it is noteworthy that it is just four seats or so away from a parliamentary majority of its own so those smaller groups that dare will probably be handsomely rewarded if they opt to join and help the new alliance avoid painful compromises with Arbil. Of course, they also risk being labelled Sunni "stooges" of a sectarian Shiite government.

Under any circumstances, this seems to be a step backwards to Iraq and a return to the unhealthy sectarian climate that dominated much of the period between 2005 and 2007. However much they talk about "unity", the members of the new alliance have little in common except the fact that they are mostly Shiites. It is a far cry from the situation just half a year ago, when Maliki was talking about political majorities and ideologically consistent cabinets.

:: Article nr. 65668 sent on 05-may-2010 01:50 ECT


Link: gulfanalysis.wordpress.com/2010/05/04/at-long-last-tehran-gets-its-alliance-and-

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