Friday, January 13, 2006

Fight For Your Right To Party

It seems Reuters' has started spinning the elections as not a wholesale route in favor of Iranian Islamists. That's good and so true. It is reporting that no party is likely to win a majority of seats in the December elections. The linked story also reports that it will be very difficult for any two of the three most successful lists to unite against the third and pass constitutional reforms.

Of course this has been obvious for weeks. But now even the MSM is acknowledging that a national unity government will emerge. When that happens, with the Sunni Arabs in full participation, I don't see how any obstinate insurgents can long remain above ground. And it is beginning to look more and more like a democratic government. Does that mean all Iraq's problems will be solved? Hmmm...has democracy solved all the problems in the U.S? But it increasingly looks less likely there will be a civil war, that Zarqawi will take over, that the Ba'athists will stage a come-back, or Iran will take over via a client (I put that last one in sarcastically because I never thought that was remotely possible.)

With this good news in mind, I thought I would detail the elected parties in the new government. The CFR posted a good overview of the major Iraqi lists before the election and I'll include pertinent comments from there as well. With 6 seats (2%) still unallocated, here is the current breakdown:

I've also included a brief explanation of MARAM.

United Iraqi Alliance
Background: The main Shi'a list. Sectarian and Islamic but not necessarily Islamist although some Sadr supporters are included among its ranks.

According to CFR:

This bloc of conservative Islamist parties, the so-called clerics' list...The UIA is led by two parties: the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), a cleric-led party with close ties to Iran, and the Dawa Party, an Islamist party led by Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari...On the UIA's platform: strictly enforcing the Iraqi constitution, strengthening Iraq's regional governments, and prosecuting ex-Baathist criminals. However, the coalition, which includes more than sixteen parties, has suffered from political infighting in recent months. Some of its more secular members, including Deputy Prime Minister Ahmed Chalabi, defected from the coalition this year because of the UIA's increasingly Islamist orientation.

Kurdish Alliance (a.k.a Kurdistan Coalition)
Background: A coalition of the Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK). They want federalism and abhor Iraq being specially designated as an Arab country. This is due to 50 years of Arab nationalism that oppressed their freedom of identity and language. Kurds tend to be more secular than Arabs generally and tend to prefer a walled separation of mosque and state, making them natural allies with the secular parties. But secular Arabs distrust them as much as the Kurds distrust Arabs, presuming that they would be happy for all Arabs to live under a theocracy as long as they get the right to run their own federal state.

According to CFR:

The KDP, led by Massoud Barzani, commands the 100,000-strong Kurdish militia known as the peshmerga. The PUK, founded in 1975, is a social democratic party that promises to rebuild Kurdistan along "modern and democratic lines." The coalition as a whole has several goals: protecting Kurdistan's semi-autonomous status, maintaining its Kurdish militia, and strengthening its control over the oil-rich city of Kirkuk. But Kurdistan's main coalition has come under attack [from the Kurdistan Islamic Union] in recent weeks for its failure to democratize and provide security.

Iraqi Accordance Front (a.k.a Accord Front)
Background: The Islamic-leaning Sunni Arab list (despite their denials); The party favored by rejectionists who nevertheless participated in the January election. It's leadership has at times claim to be able to turn off the insurgent attacks like a faucet. CSM journalist Jill Carroll was abducted (and her Iraqi interpreter Allan Enwiya murdered) while waiting for an interview with it's leader Adnan al-Dulaimi (who claims to have had no interview scheduled with her). He has also been reported to have taken the name of a kidnap victim from a petitioner and had him released.

According to CFR:

The first major alliance established within the Sunni Arab community, the Iraqi Accord Front rejects the U.S. occupation but has participated in the political process in Iraq. The bloc comprises the Iraqi Islamic Party, and the Conference of the People of Iraq. The Iraqi Islamic Party, headed by Tariq al-Hashimi, is loosely associated with the Egypt's fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood and was the sole Sunni group to participate in January's elections. More recently, the party was instrumental in urging Sunnis to vote in the constitutional referendum that passed last October. The National Dialogue Council, a powerful Sunni group led by Khalaf al-Ulayyan, boycotted January's elections but voted NO in the referendum. The Council has been highly critical of the Defense Ministry's policy of demolishing civilian houses suspected of harboring insurgents. The Conference of the People of Iraq, led by Adnan Dulaimi, has strongly criticized anti-Shiite terrorist attacks in Iraq and called for more national reconciliation...The Iraqi Accord Front, which says it is not sectarian-based, has three main goals: expelling U.S. forces from Iraq, ending de-Baathification, and amending the constitution, which the group's spokesperson, Zafir al-Ani, called a "ready-made recipe for civil war," in a recent interview.

Iraqi National List (a.k.a. Iraqi National Accord)
Background: Iyad Allawi's secular party. Allawi is a Shi'a, an ex-Ba'athist, and the PM for the Coalition Provisional Authority. He fled Saddam regime and, reputedly, was the subject of an attempted assassination in London by agents of Saddam. The INA's campaign was based on Secularism and Reconciliation with the ex-Ba'athists (end to deba'athification). His campaign ads frequently pictured him with an unveiled female candidate. Despite his call for an end to deba'athification, many saw him as a "get tough" candidate. His appeal for many Iraqis was handicapped by the rampant fiscal corruption during his tenure heading the CPA.

According to CFR:

This recently created coalition, led by former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, encompasses a wide political spectrum of seventeen mostly secular Shiite, Sunni Arab, and Kurdish parties. The bloc calls for a united and democratic Iraq that "renounces sectarianism," improved relations with Iraq's Arab neighbors, and a strong national army. Allawi, a Shiite, dismisses accusations that his coalition is anti-Islam or pro-Baathist. "We represent all of Iraq, not just one party," he said in a November 28 interview with al-Arabiya...Yet according to the Christian Science Monitor, Allawi's support among secular and better-educated Iraqis has surged in...weeks [leading up to the December elections]. Some Iraqis say they will support him because of his reputation as a strongman. Others, however, are expected to vote against Allawi for this very same reason. Shiites and Sunnis alike remember the anti-insurgency crackdowns he orchestrated as prime minister in 2004 in Fallujah, Najaf, and Sadr City; during a December 4 visit to a shrine in Najaf, Allawi was attacked by armed Shiite militia members. Ads by rival Shiite parties refer to him as "Saddam without the mustache." His interim government was also widely known for corruption. Further, Allawi is seen by some Iraqis as a lackey of the United States, not to mention a Baathist sympathizer. His new alliance includes a number of ex-Baathists. Allawi himself was a former Baath Party member...Yet he also has reached out to Adnan Pachachi, an octogenarian and popular Sunni leader who led the Iraqi delegation to the United Nations in 2003.

Iraqi Front for National Dialog
Background: Led by Saleh al-Mutlaq, one of the Sunni Arab representatives included in the constitutional drafting process. It is more secular than the Iraqi Accord Front. They are adamantly against federalism and favoring Arab identity for the nation. They opposed ratification of the constitution on those grounds. They also want a clear timetable for the US forces to leave Iraq. They want negociations with terrorists, and they want Iraqis released from US prison that they presume are being held there unfairly. For Iraqis who are secular and believe in a fabled "Resistance" that is truly distinct from the jihadis, this is their party.
Quotes from Mutlaq: here, here, here

According to CFR:

Mutlaq has called the constitution a “minefield” that will “blow up anytime.” The bloc—which comprises several Sunni Arab parties, including the Iraqi National Front and Arab Democratic Front—[was] expected to fare well in insurgent strongholds like Ramadi and Mosul.

Kurdish Islamic Alliance (a.k.a Kurdistan Islamic Union, a.k.a KIU)

The Islamic Kurds are ironically more Islamic than the Islamic Arabs.

According to CFR:

Formerly a member of the Kurdistan Coalition List, the Kurdistan Islamic Union accuses the Coalition of dominating Kurdish politics, failing to reform Kurdistan's economy, root out corruption, and falsely reporting a higher voter turnout among Kurds during the October constitutional referendum. Yet the KIU's Secretary-General Salaheddin Mohammed Bahaeddin told the newspaper Yekgirtu that the PUK and KDP interpret a single list as the unanimity of the parties and campaign for it as such.

Background: Muqtada al-Sadr's party. Presumably, this list strengthens the hand of the UIA if they are included in the government. However, they say they will not participate in a government that includes either the Iraqi National Accord (this is a "red-line" issue, they say) or the Iraqi Front for National Dialog (the two largest secular parties). So we shall see.

Reconciliation and Liberation Bloc
Originally, the Iraqi Homeland Party. According to the wikipedia it is "Sunni, liberal, and secularist party... Jordan in 1995 by exiles from Saddam's regime". Today, it is essentially the party of the populous Juburi tribe. The Juburi claim 10 million members, so clearly its support even from that tribe is not overwhelming.

Patriotic Rafidain Party
Background: A coaltion of the Christian Assyrian Democratic Movement and Chaldean National Council.

Iraqi Turkmen Front
Background: Obviously, the ethnic Turkmen party. They are against federalism and want Iraq to remain a designated Arab country.

Iraqi National Congress
Background: Ahmed Chalabi's secular breakaway party from the UIA

Parliament of Patriotic Forces
Background: The party of CPA Defense Minister Hazim Al-Shaalan whose department has been accused of some of the worst embezzlement of reconstruction funds amounting to billions of dollars.

An acronym for "Mu'tamar Rafidhee al-Intikhabat al-Muzawara" meaning "the Rejectionists of Fraudulent Elections Congress." It is a coaltion of over 50 parties that merged in opposition to alleged alleged fraud by the UIA. The parties in MARAM consists of the Iraqi Accordance Front, Iraqi National Accord, Patriotic Rafidain Party, Iraqi Turkmen Front, Iraqi Front for National Dialog, Parliament of Patriotic Forces and some 80 other miniscule parties. Allawi has emerged as their spokesman.

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