End of power-sharing or end of Iraqiya

November 16, 2010

Since the very beginning of the 2010 political process, the Iraqiya bloc has fed its supports a steady diet of disappointments. From day one, the mostly Sunni and secular coalition has lost credibility with its allies, foes, analysts and the regional and international players who once saw the grouping as a game-changer in the new Iraq.
The decision to walkout on the November 12 meeting of parliament has only underscored a deepening dysfunction, leaving many in Iraq’s political arena to question Iraqiya’s viability as a political partner. To be blunt, Iraqiya has gradually gained the reputation as a moody and unpredictable group that no one can do business with.
The excuses that they came up with in the second meeting of parliament showed cracks in the coalition and revealed a disorganised and fractured list. One leader, Dr Rafi’ Al-Issawi, dismissed the walkout as a misunderstanding, while another, the head of the list Dr Ayad Allawi, declared the power-sharing deal that broke eight months of political gridlock dead in the water.
Perhaps more importantly, and not without some irony, Iraqiya proved its own ineffectiveness. They were unable to block the process as they claimed, and it’s now clear that a government can move forward with or without them.
After securing the speakership, and using the excuse of parliament ratifying the political agreement and removing de-Baathification on some of their figures, Iraqiya tried to stop the process of electing the president and naming the Prime Minister. This was seen by many as a clear manoeuvre to get more than what they had originally agreed to.
Not only did they fail to stop the process and break the quorum, they became irrelevant to the election of the president. Therefore, when the first problem faces them,www.ekurd.netand there will be many, they would have to tell the president that “Although we did not vote for you, we want you to help us solve a problem.” In such a scenario, President-elect Jalal Talabani’s support would come out of graciousness, not duty. After all, they did not vote for him.
Even more important, Iraqiya lost the trust of a key ally in Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani. It was Barzani’s initiative, some observers believe, to specifically include Iraqiya in the political process and provide them with guarantees.
But their behaviour has made many people, including those who honestly wanted to support them, think twice. Iraqiya has proved that as a bloc they are not very united and clearly lack strong leadership.
From the start of their declaration of victory minutes after close of polls on election day, Iraqiya has demonstrated that it would be quite difficult to rely on them as a united bloc and as a bloc that can institute real change to Iraq.
Every few weeks, a new speaker for the list emerges and says something different from the one before. Each leader of the bloc says something different from the other. They have not articulated a united argument about their demands or vision for the future. It is common for divergent members to contradict one another. One says they are in, another says they are out; so it goes in Iraqiya.
They have many so-called leaders, and each leader seems to want something different. When a new development takes place, Iraqiya moves in a thousand different directions. This lack of cohesion has cost them many different opportunities to get a better deal than the one they have today.
It’s been a catalogue of missed opportunities: from refusing a power-sharing deal with Maliki early on to refusing to support Adel Abdulmahdi’s candidacy for PM and, lately, losing Barzanis trust, when he tailored his initiative purely to bring them on board.
While some Iraqiya members said they supported Barzani’s initiative to bring an Iraqi solution to the issue, others got extremely excited about the Saudi initiative that was designed to bring an outside settlement to the government formation.
Such indecision still plagues Iraqiya: at a time when some attended the second session of parliament, the head of the list was heading out of Iraq to London and declaring the power-sharing deal dead while predicting a deterioration of the security situation.
Iraqiya’s cracks are showing and their political future is unclear. Given their all-or-none approach; their division and lack of leadership raise serious questions about their viability to continue as a bloc despite the large number of seats they have.

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