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29 March 2010

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walrus

Col. Lang, Is there any form of oriental logic that provides for hair splitting between "Eligible to stand for election" vs. "Eligible to serve in Government"?

I would not have thought so. What "advice" do you think the Ambassador will give Maliki?

Patrick Lang

Toothed one

I would think that in the best tradition of Lord Cromer, the ambassador would gently and sensitively suggest that disaster would ensue... pl

zanzibar

Interesting!

So what happened to all the Iranian exiles? Did their welcome end so quickly?

And does Allawi's election victory mean the one that got so few votes in the previous election as it was claimed he was on the CIA payroll still remains a wily operator in the shifting sands of Iraqi politics?

And what role does the neocon's best friend, Chalabi play in this new landscape?

William R. Cumming

If I understand the Iraqi Constitution and probably do not, elections are not won in this Parlimentary system but the government is led by the person who can form the largest coalition, just as Israel and Lebanon are lead by people whose parties did not get the most seats. So perhaps this is a big deal and perhaps not.
What does disturb me is again the presence of Mr. Chalabi in a key role on the seating of those elected.

The beaver

Why can't they put that trouble maker Chalabi behind bars?

ked

Maliki has learned more than I expected from observing US election mgmt.

Patrick Lang

beaver et al

I have a long public record of aversion to Chalabi.

He is living proof that the US does not "off" its enemies. Once he fell from grace he should have been fair game.

If your memory reaches back to the 1st Cav Division raid on his Hq, at the Baghdad Sporting Club, a lieutenent got tired of his mouth and shoved his pistol's muzzle up under Chalabi's chin to shut him up, but, alas. pl

Adam L Silverman

Mr. Cumming: You are correct, and almost every major US media report on the election is incorrect. In order to outright win the election a voting list (made up of multiple parties) or a single party has to electorally capture at least 163 seats in parliament. As in other parliamentary systems there is a formula for transforming percentage of the vote won into number of seats. The Iraqi Constitution delineates that whichever part or list gets the most votes (a plurality), if no one gets 163 outright, will be asked to build a coalition and form the new government. The jockeying now, including the arrests of six people in Diyala last week who had just been elected (three of these people are on the disqualification list that is referenced in the article) on warrants issued before the election, is over whether State of Law (Maliki) or Iraqiyya (Allawi) will be asked to build the coalition and choose the next Iraqi PM. If the disqualifications hold up, and I suspect they will, then Maliki's State of Law Party will have the most votes and will be asked to build the coalition, the next government, and choose the next PM.

Zanzibar: The exiles support is still there. If you look at the Shi'a lists of State of Law and Iraqi National Alliance, they both include the large Shi'a exile groups: Dawa, ISCI (Badr), and the INC. Allawi's list, composed largely of the non-exiles in the Sunni and Shi'a tribal and secular communities, and the Sadrist Party, which is part of the INA list, all did very, very well. Many, including myself, have long argued that those who actually had indigenous support were being locked out by the exiles. These results demonstrate that, but whether or not they translate into the exiles loosing some or all of their power will be the result of the positioning and coalition building. Professor Cole has a great run down, with links, to the most recent reporting about the State of Law and INA meetings in Tehran over how to move forward and build a coalition. The link to Professor Cole is below, and it is well worth everyone's time to click through and see what he's written and linked to:http://www.juancole.com/2010/03/chalabi-moves-to-disqualify-6-elected.html

Patrick Lang

Adam et al

I don't care what Cole has to say.

This is not a question of the niceties of Iraqi electoral law.

The issue of whether or not Maliki is going to phony up the result has to do with

1- Whether or not Maliki and the rest are willing to abide by the norms of western style elections. i.e., one does not disqualify one's victorious opponents on an ex post facto basis.

2- Will western secularism prevail in Iraq or will the thinly disguised medieval religiosity of Maliki and/or the other islamists prevail.

I think that there is little doubt as to which outcome would be better for ordinary Iraqis. pl

Adam L Silverman

Sir,

I'm not in disagreement with your concerns or with what the best outcome would be for the Iraqis themselves. Maliki has worked very hard to coup-proof himself for the past two years or so through both internal/structural maneuvering, as well as outreach to tribal Sunnis and more secular Shi'a. At the same time he has also waged a tremendously effective IO and Psyops campaign to portray himself as an Iraqi nationalist, not a religious Shi'a sectarian leading an exile party and movement established and supported by Iran.

The discussion of the electoral jockeying, both in terms of the elections and the coalition building, is just the latest battlefield for what Maliki has been doing, and what others have been doing in response to his endeavors. At this stage there are really only two possible US courses of action: led it all play out and try to mitigate the damage as best as possible prior to having to complete the withdrawal timeline or directly intervene. As with so many things in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past number of years we're left with no good COAs, no good options, and no real understanding of how to extricate ourselves from the mess we've stumbled into.

Jackie

Adam,
Your statement about the "mess we've stumbled into" isn't quite accurate. George W. Bush, Cheney and that administration worked damned hard feeding us b.s. and lies to get us where we are today.

I'm sorry to be argumentative or take issue on this point, but I'm still not over that IO.
My sincere apologies and I always enjoy your comments.

anna missed

One has to wonder how the elections would have went minus the de-Baathification disqualification routine. What exactly did Salih al-Mutlak do to get banned? Hasn't he been an active, upstanding, and respected member of the Iraqi government and leader of the Sunni Dialogue Party for years now? Wouldn't have all those Sunni's that voted for Allawi's secular party rather have voted for Sunni representation?

Gosh, you don't think the U.S. really supported the ban (while criticizing it) knowing all along that the outcome would favor Allawi? And by windfall benefit the Obama administration. Sort of along the lines of how the coup in Honduras developed, unfolded, and reluctantly (tsk,tsk) accepted.

Jose

Maybe the Iranians are creating mischief just to make sure we are not able to withdraw on time and delay any confrontation against them.

Whatever happens in Iraq will be decided by the Iraqi's and unfortunately the Iranians.

If we intervene there will be various factions immediately against us and not in our best interest.

This is sort of like Lebanon where Syria (and Iran) have direct access to the political system but we (U.S.) do not.

I think that there is little doubt as to which outcome would be better for ordinary Iraqis. pl - Forgive me Sir, but we said the same thing about Lebanon after the last election and look where the Lebanese ended.

Same applies to Ukraine, so maybe the less we do the better for us in the long run.

Maybe the fear of civil war is exactly what the Iraqis need to be able to make compromises.

rfjk

Well... There will be a renewal of civil war if this happens.

And the US will quietly, but effectively support the secularists (nationalists) over the sectarians (Iranian sympathizers}.

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