Thursday, December 25, 2008

Winter solstice

Remarks by Khalaf al-Alyan (or al-Ulayyan) head of the National Dialog Council (of which former speaker Mashhadani is a member), and by Mashhadani himself, reflect the recent history of GreenZone political maneuvering, by way of background to the recent events.

Alyan said the pressure to get rid of Mashhadani as speaker goes back to his support for the so-called "July 22" or "coordinating council" success in passing section 24 of the law relating to provincial elections, a section that called for interim power-sharing in Mosul, something that was bitterly opposed by the Kurdish parties. Alyan said the five-party coalition (two Kurdish parties, SupremeCouncil, Dawa, and the Islamic Party of Iraq) was punishing Mashhadani for his support of the July 22 movement in that (AlHayat). This epitomizes, Alyan said, he failure of the Iraqi Accord Front coalition to carry out the principles of its founding statement, adding it is time for the front to be disbanded.

Mashhadani himself has spoken more bluntly about the Islamic Party conspiring with the other four parties in various matters, without consulting the other parties that are members of the Iraqi Accord Front, notably his own, the National Dialog Council. In one of his statements, Mashhadani went so far as to accuse the five parties of planning to replace Maliki as Prime Minister, on the basis that his defence of the national interest in the Kurdistan-region border disputes was not to their liking. In any event, the two of them announced the withdrawal of the National Dialog Council from the IAF, and said this was the end of the IAF. (But a spokesman for the IAF says they will be meeting soon to pick a successor to Mashhadani as parliamentary speaker, this being their right under the sectarian-allocation system).

Naturally there are other motives at work.

For instance: (1) Alyan and others in the GreenZone Sunni parties have been named by some of the Sunni armed factions for their collaboration in voting for the security agreement. So they are in a hard place, accused by the Shiite parties of collaborating with the resistance, and accused by the resistance of being traitors, and no doubt that makes for strong motivation to try and burnish their nationalist credentials.

(2) There is the general issue of one-party domination of the IAF coalition. The AlHayat reporter makes the point that this defection of the National Dialog Council from the IAF resembles the earlier defection of the Sadrists and Fadhila from the United Iraqi Accord (UIA, the big Shiite-party coalition), so in some ways the common feature would be the marginalization of minority parties in a large coalition.

And it is worth remembering that the proponents of the PTB/PTA, or sectarian, or small-group narrative will tell you that the last point is the key one. The other issues are 99% rhetoric, they will say. All that is happening here is "further fragmentation". This is in the nature of the situation.

But that's just the point. In a sectarian-allocation system (with a little help from a "strong-man" Prime Minister supported by, and collaborating with, a newly-legitimized occupation army) it is to be expected that the lines between the "sects" will harden and not soften, as the system-winners (the "powers that be", namely the five coalition parties) attempt to solidify their gains, in the face of new challenges and new opportunities.

It doesn't follow, however, that the outsiders have nothing in common except their resentment at the prospect of being left off the gravy-train. That might be a good way of explaining, say, the disintegration of the jerrybuilt Bush-era Republican Party. But surely applying a model like that to other countries and cultures we know little about is more an expression of the cultural bottoming-out of America, than of anything to do with any other country, let alone Iraq.

(Santa has informed me that just for today it will not be necessary to provide the usual level of links for all of the above. Meanwhile, best wishes to all of the thoughtful readers in these parts...)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Best wishes to you also, and thank you as always.

9:12 AM  
Blogger David said...

I don't know where "in these parts" is exactly. It must be the blogosphere, despite the phrase being distinctly down-home and rural.
Best wishes back, Badger, and many, many thanks for your work.

1:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Visser also has something on this subject here

1:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry Badger the correct link for the piece by Visser is here

1:48 PM  
Blogger badger said...

Thanks for that Visser link, which I hadn't seen. He has more on the "July 22" connection, and he suggests there may even be a move by that grouping (also referred to as the "coordinating council") to force a break with the sectarian-allocation system in the matter of replacing Mashhadani.

2:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A news analysis today on International Herald Tribune, Maliki faces accusations and rumors, has this on p. 2:
The former speaker of Parliament, Mahmoud al-Mashhadani, who resigned this week, accused Maliki's rivals of pushing him out to make a no-confidence vote easier.

"They are hoping that after my resignation, it will be easier for them to dismiss Maliki," he said Tuesday.

The IHT 'analysis' itself isn't worth much, but the Mashadani quote caught my eye...

9:24 AM  
Blogger badger said...

looks like an issue that has caught a lot of people's eyes. AlHayat has a summary today that focuses on the question of the stance of the Supreme Council, and whether they will "do the same thing to Maliki that the Islamic Party Party did to Mashhadani". The conclusion there is that stumbling blocks in the way of this include: (1) People in the Supreme Council aren't sure how Sistani and the other authorities would react to something link that; and (2) (admittedly this is from a Dawa Party person), the Dawa/SCouncil differences don't seem to be at the breaking point yet.

2:09 PM  

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