March 21, 2006

Al-Jaafari - Teetering On the Edge?

Hatched by Dafydd

Earlier this month, Sachi posted Al-Jaafari Must Step Down to Unify Iraq, in which she argued that Interim Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari is the major reason there has not yet been agreement on a permanent government.

Ibrahim al-Jaafari of the Shiite United Iraqi Alliance (UIA), is the leading candidate for next Iraqi Prime Minister; but he is stirring up a hornet's nest across Iraq: the Kurds don’t like him; the Sunnis hate him; and secular Iraqis fear him. Even the top Shiite spiritual leader, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani -- a strong proponent of a unified Iraq -- is suggesting al-Jaafari step aside....

Many believe al-Jaafari is behind a series of killings targeting prominent Sunni clerics and former Baath members, under the guise of the Interior Ministry’s Security Forces, which are infested with Iranian influenced militiamen. Al-Jaafari, of the Islamic Dawa Party (within the UIA coalition), was strongly backed in the Shiite caucus by militia leader Muqtada Sadr, the anti-American militant who occupied Najaf, Sadr City, and Basra during a failed "uprising" in March of 2004, timed to coincide with a similar surge of violence in Sunni Fallujah.

In the "primary" of the UIA, al-Jaafari beat Interim Vice President Adel Abdul-Mahdi of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) by a single vote; thereafter, the entire UIA insisted that al-Jaafari must be the nominee for prime minister in the permanent government. Boiled down, that is the block in forming a government in Iraq.

But there are persistent and growing indications that the UIA is splintering on this issue now. According to the website AdnKronosInternational -- whose accuracy and veracity is completely unknown -- SCIRI (Abdul-Mahdi's party within the UIA) may be about to split from Dawa (al-Jaafari's party) on the question of the prime minister nominee, joining with Kurds and Sunni to form a majority coalition that can nominate Abdul-Mahdi and elect him to the post. This would break the logjam, were it to occur, and the government could finally form. (Hat tip to Bill Roggio at the Fourth Rail.)

Baghdad, 17 March (AKI) - The representatives of the Kurdish list, the Sunni Iraqi Concord Front and much of the Shiite Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution (SCIRI) have reportedly reached an accord on a new prime minister. Their agreement not to reconfirm Ibrahim al-Jaafari as prime minister and instead nominate Abdel Mahdi, a leading SCIRI figure and currently vice president, was reported by the al-Arabiya network and confirmed by Sunni deputy, Salman Jumeiri. The nomination of a new prime minister is the main sticking point in efforts to forge a new government in Iraq after the elections in December....

The line-up of those endorsing Abdel Mahdi - who lost narrowly to Jaafari in an internal vote on a prime ministerial candidate - may well exclude MPs from the faction of radical Shiite imam Moqtada al-Sadr and those of the Islamic party Dawa, led by Jaafari.

Ordinarily, we would not put much faith in an unknown website's claim; but this rumor has circulated for several days now, and more people seem to be believing it. For example, Hugh Hewitt mentioned it on his radio show last week, though he gave no specifics. (Of course, Hugh might just have gotten it from the Fourth Rail, as we did!)

Logically, it makes sense: al-Jaafari is Dawa's candidate, and he polled essentially equal with Abdul-Mahdi, being pushed ever so slightly over the top by Muqtada Sadr's powerful influence. If SCIRI can do an end-run around Dawa to get their own guy in the top spot and also be hailed as the saviors of the December election, they would be stupid to turn it down.

I doubt that Dawa will try to punish SCIRI later; Dawa needs the UIA as much as SCIRI, if the Shia are to have their majority. In fact, as Dawa is generally less militant and fundamentalist than SCIRI (though the individuals involved this time reverse that tendency), many Dawa members might be secretly pleased that al-Jaafari -- and the invisible hand of Sadr -- are out of the picture.

And they do, of course, want to light the candle and get the government going; the Iraqi people are getting restless with the bickering.

So let's keep fingers crossed that this isn't just a wild rumor that spread out of control like a California wildfire.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, March 21, 2006, at the time of 4:42 AM

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» Shiite Alliance Splits from Big Lizards
A couple of weeks ago, Dafydd reported in Al-Jaafari - Teetering On the Edge? that there was a strong indication that the Shiite bloc, the United Iraqi Alliance (UIA), may split over the controversial nomination of Muqtada Sadr's ally, Ibrahim... [Read More]

Tracked on April 3, 2006 2:44 PM

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The following hissed in response by: hunter

When I reflect on the amounts of time spent in forming the US Govt., in a peaceful setting, and then listen to those throwing in the towel on Iraqi efforts to form a civil society, I just laugh. Letting al-Jaafari have his day in the sun is a great thing to do. Letting him fail in forming a govt. may be the best thing yet.
Except for the regrettable Dubai port situation, I find this blog to be one of the most informed and insightful available on the internet. I have always believed SF people are far above average (humbly being one myself, lol) and this blog proves it. Don't worry about low posting rates. Many are reading, and many mroe are learning from you.

The above hissed in response by: hunter [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 21, 2006 4:13 PM

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