Monday, July 28, 2008

A reported split within Hakim's Supreme Council bloc

This will come a surprise to people (myself, for example) who thought the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, ISCI, (formerly the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, SCIRI) and the Badr Organization (formerly the Badr Brigades) are two symbiotic parts of the same organization: AlHayat reports today that the there is a conflict between them that came to the surface during the voting-drama last Tuesday.
Informed sources say a conflict developed within the Islamic Supreme Council bloc in parliament, led by Abdulaziz al-Hakim--and which includes the Party of the Supreme Islamic Council and the Badr Organization which is led by Hadi al-Amari--[the conflict] relating to passage of the elections law. The Supreme Council (15 seats) rejected voting on the law last Tuesday and withdrew from the session, the Badr Organization (15 parliamentary seats) voted in favor of the law.
(So if we call these the political wing (Hakim) and the Badr or paramilitary wing (al-Amari), then what happened was that the Hakim's political wing sided with the main Kurdish parties in rejecting the vote, but he lost the support of the paramilitary wing).

Then the journalist quotes Hadi al-Amari as laying the entire blame for the walkout and the deadlock on the Kurds:
Badr Organization leader Hadi al-Amari put the entire responsibility for passage of the provincial elections law on the Kurdistan Alliance because of the withdrawal of its members from the voting session last Tuesday, and he added that their decision to withdraw was a mistake , and he said his staying [in the voting session] and that of his bloc was in protest against the withdrawal of the Kurds.
As for the nature and implications of the internal conflict between the Badr wing and the Hakim wing, the journalist wasn't able to get very far. He writes:
According to a statement issued by the Supreme Islamic Council, Hakim on Saturday evening studied the provincial elections law with members of the Badr Organization, which is part of [the Supreme Islamic Council], but the statement didn't mention any other details.

Jaladdin al-Saghir denied their are conflicts or splits within the party, explaining that the two sides are in agreement on the need to realize the principle of political consensus in order to solve this matter in the political forum.


Anonymous Alex said...

I wasn't surprised, myself, though I would not have predicted the split. It seems to me that this story represents a not inconsiderable step in the reconfiguration of Iraqi politics from a majority for federation (to give a euphemism to breakup), and multiple conflict, towards a simple duality. On the one side, the Kurds and the leadership of ISCI, who continue to argue for "federation". On the other, everyone else, who want to see Iraq remain an integral state.

Of course, I am not a political scientist, and I don't follow the detail. So I am necessarily simplistic.

It should not be forgotten that Iraqis have had a great shock over the proposed conditions of the SOFA, and the Oil Law. The reaction has been visceral. Even in the worst days at the end of 2006, Baghdadis were saying, though sitting in the cold and dark under bombardment, that they wanted a united Iraq (see Visser and Stansfield, An Iraq of its Regions, pp 51-74). Tell them that their country is going to be broken up, under permanent US domination, with the oil wealth stolen, and they are bound to react badly.

As Visser detected a long time ago, in his book on Basra, the basic configuration of feeling in Iraq (apart from the Kurds) is for unity, though other centrifugal interests do exist.

What this story shows, is that a rot has set in, even within ISCI, on a popular level. The rank and file want unity, and only the leadership wants "federation".

1:00 PM  

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