A response to Belmont Club on the political situation in Iraq, and SCIRI the Kingmaker
Early this morning, Belmont Club’s Richard Hernandez solicited my opinion on his post titled “Crunch time again,” where he discussed the political situation in Iraq, the difficulties and problems in forming a new government, the issues in dealing with the militias, the possibility of the politicization of the Iraqi Army, and the prospects for success. Mr. Hernandez has posted my reply in full.
In my reply, I noted (as I did yesterday in “Inside the UIA”) the party to watch is SCIRI. Mr. Hernandez points us to Mohammed’s post at Iraq the Model, which notes the political negotiations are back on due to Sistani’s call to speed up the political process, and Sadr’s fears of Allawi controlling the security portfolio. Mohammed also notes the rise in prominence and popularity of Aadil Abdul Mahdi, the candidate who narrowly lost to Jaafari in the United Iraqi Alliance ballot for prime minister.
AbdulMahdi is attracting increased attention from the media and there’s high demand on him for interviews especially on the papers. Today I read his latest where he called for forming the government as soon as possible, enforce the laws and activate the constitution to put an end to the current state of chaos and put militias under control as well as dealing with the phenomenon of having Iraqi forces taking orders from neither of the security ministries. He also asked politicians-Iraqi and foreign-to be careful with their statements and study their words before saying anything that can “pour oil on fire”.
Mr. AbdulMahdi through his latest remarks looks like trying to prove that he represents the moderate voice inside the UIA and that he stands as a balancing choice that can approximate the position of the extremes of the political/sectarian spectrum.
Actually it looks clearer now that the SCIRI still looks forward to replace Jafari with a candidate from their own. And this is also obvious from a statement al-Hakeem gave to the CNN (found it on the SCIRI’s paper al-Adala) when he answered a question about Jafari by saying that “the UIA is till studying the matter and things will clearer in the next few day we need more time to have this subject studied from all sides “.
Abdul Mahdi is positioning himself as the law-and-order candidate, and has the backing of the U.S. government as well as the approval of the Sunni, Kurdish and secular Shiite parties. He has the ability to create the unity government. Listen to Sistani’s statements. Watch SCIRI’s actions. Sadr is being equated as the kingmaker, but in reality SCIRI holds the power to make or break the next prime minister.