State of Law, What We Know So Far - 10.02.2009

Although Prime Minister Al-Maliki named his new Coalition for the Parliamentary elections more than 24 hours ago, at a well-attended press conference, we still know very little in terms of specifics. Most analysts, journalists, and bloggers appear to be in agreement that, by and large, Maliki’s State of Law Coalition, thus far, is made up primarily of lesser-known politicians.

The assumption has been that politicians being lesser-known equates with them having less influence. I believe Maliki’s gamble may prove quite successful for his political interests. It was rumored that Al-Maliki had recruited Jawad Al-Bolani and Bolani’s slowly gathering mini-coalition expected to contain Sheikh Abu Risha and Saleh Mutlaqs followers. It was expected these two Sunni leaders would also join the coalition, however they have apparently not agreed as of this writing. This may not be such a loss. Regarding the major concerns facing Iraqis, electricity, basic needs infrastructure, and crime all rate highly in civilian concerns.

You’ll note, if you review our list below, and compare it with Wikipedia’s list of the “Council of Ministers of Iraq,” neither the Electricity Minister Kareem Waheed, Interior Minister Jawad Bolani, Minister of Water Resources, Abdul Latif-Rashid, nor Riad Ghareeb the Minister of Municipalities and Public Works were present within the State of Law Coalition.

The significance of this is larger than the fact that these are big names and players in the Iraqi government. They are also prime targets for blame regarding the lack of progress in Iraq’s security, stability, and infrastructure. Al-Maliki may be truly aiming to revolutionize the state of politics in Iraq, which would be a huge step forward toward the future progress and integrity of the nation. He may also simply be maneuvering himself to maintain the Prime Ministership. To become Prime Minister all he needs to do is deliver enough of a blow to the numbers of the major opposing coalitions that he becomes Kingmaker. Neither of these situations seems unattainable. He’s also perfectly capable of using the appearance of opposition to his former colleagues in the United Iraqi Alliance for his own political gain.

Given all of these conditions, let’s take a look at what we know about his coalition so far. The best initial roundup I’ve found comes from Al-Sumaria TV.

Firstly it should be know surprise that Hussein Shahristani, the Oil Minister followed the Prime Minister, nor that Education Minister Khudayr Al-Khuza’i followed, as he is a member of Maliki’s own Dawa Party.

Shaykh Khaled Abather al-Attiyah (also transliterated as Attia) is an Iraqi politician who was elected in December 2005 to the Council of Representatatives as an independent member of the United Iraqi Alliance.

On 22 April 2006 he was elected First Deputy Speaker of the Iraqi National Assembly.

Khaled is just one of several members of the United Iraqi Alliance which, while he is only a single independent, in total serve to chip away at the new INA’s potential.

Dr. Salih Mahdi Motlab al-Hasnawi is an Iraqi doctor and politician, who has been the Minister of Health since 30 October 2007. He is a Shi’ite Muslim, but independent of any political party.

Ahtan Abbas No’man, yet another member of the United Iraqi Alliance has been the Tourism Minister since July 2007, after taking over from a Sadrist who was removed from the position in April 2007.

Mahmoud Mohammed al-Radhi is an Iraqi politician from the religious Shi’ite Arab-led Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council, and the Minister of Labour and Social Affairs since May 2006.

In June 2007, he strongly criticised the United States Army for publishing pictures of severely malnourished children in a Baghdad orphanage. He accused the soldiers of setting up the photographs and using tricks to “show the Americans as the humanitarian party”. He said it was “a media fabrication exploited by forces opposed to the government”.

Abdul Samad Sultan, a representative of the Fayli Kurd segment of the United Iraqi Alliance is the Minister of Displacement and Migration. Will assisting Iraqis outside the country to return, and success in resettling displaced Iraqis help Maliki’s coalition? It remains to be seen, but certainly I feel that may have as much of an impact as Sultan’s Kurdish heritage.

Jasim Mohammed Jaafar (born 1958) (Turkish: Casim Muhammed Cafer) is the Iraqi Minister for Youth & Sports in the government of Nouri al-Maliki. He was confirmed by the Iraqi National Assembly on 2006-05-20, having previously served as the Minister for Construction and Housing in the Iraqi Transitional Government.

Jaafar may pull a small portion of the Kurdish Alliance, but the Turkmen minority are a small but vocal portion of Iraq’s populace. More influential will be whether Maliki can convince the Kurdish Change List that they should join his coalition. It’s unlikely there would be any agreement with the larger PUK and KDP parties, due to disagreements over the autonomy of the Kurdish region and the control of Kirkuk in particular.

Safa al-Din Mohammed al-Safi is an Iraqi politician who has been acting Justice Minister in the government of Nouri al-Maliki since April 2007. Since May 2006 he has also been Minister of State for Council of Representatives Affairs.

The recent release of Asaib Ahl Al-Haq members, as well as other efforts toward reconciliation may encourage support for Maliki’s list, however it could backfire if citizens blame Maliki’s inaction, or improper action, too much for ongoing crime.

Other members present were mentioned elsewhere.

According to USA Today, Khalid al-Yawer, the leader of minor Sunni political party in the western Anbar province, said that he decided to back al-Maliki, because he seemed serious about reaching beyond the Shiite community.

USA Today also mentioned, Tribal leaders from several provinces, several influential clerics and a Chaldean Catholic archbishop, were among those who attended al-Maliki’s announcement.

Which brings us to the much touted addition of Sheikh Hatem Al-Suleiman, a leader of the Dulaimi tribe, likely to have much influence in Anbar and within the Sunni tribal community. His presence could split the apparent allegiance of Sunnis to a collective Awakening Bloc, or a more Sunni-specific bloc in general. Despite some reports otherwise, it does not appear that his fellow Sunni, Ahmed Abu Risha, was present, although there are rumors that he is still being approached to join the coalition.

Roads to Iraq also mentioned a few others who were present, Ali Al-Dabbagh’s Ka’fat Party, the Iraqi Arab Bloc led by Abdul Karim Alabtan, Jumu’a based in Salahuddin and led by Sabhan Al-Janabi, Mehdi Hafidh’ Al-Tajamu’a, and the Turkmen Islamic Union, led by Abbas al-Bayati.

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