FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Sistani’s Triumph; Allawi’s Bust

Baghdad.

With more than three million votes counted, the United Iraqi Alliance, whose leaders have close ties to Iran, was sweeping ahead of its nearest rival in the poll in Iraq. The Alliance, a largely Shia coalition cobbled together by Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, has won more than two-thirds of the 3.3 million votes counted so far, the election commission said yesterday.

The two most powerful parties in the coalition are the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) and Dawa, religiously based parties supported by Iran, with whom they were allied during the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war.

The first votes showed the Alliance was out-polling the slate put forward by Iyad Allawi, the interim Prime Minister, by three votes to one. The Iraqi List, the coalition of Mr Allawi, is so far doing less well than had been expected. He has largely supported the US in its hostility to Iran, complaining that it was interfering in Iraqi affairs. He portrayed himself during the campaign as a tough secular candidate capable of restoring order in Iraq. Mr Allawi’s coalition has received 580,000 votes.

The figures represented partial returns from 10 of Iraq’s 18 provinces, said Hamdiyah al-Husseini, an election commission official. All 10 provinces have heavy Shia populations, and the Alliance had been expected to perform strongly in those areas.

“The Shia coalition had the right strategy,” said an Iraqi political commentator yesterday. “They put all their energy in mobilising their voters and getting them to the polls.” The Shia make up some 60 per cent of the Iraqi population, although long denied power.

US moves against Iran, or permission by Washington for Israel to bomb Iranian nuclear facilities, would inevitably be opposed by an Iraqi government reliant on the votes of religious parties. SCIRI, in particular, was long seen as being partially controlled by Tehran and the Badr Brigade, its militia, fought for Iran against Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war.

If Iran does believe that the US is planning to attack it directly or indirectly then it is in a strong position to make the American position in Iraq even more difficult. “The Iranians would sooner fight in Baghdad than in Tehran,” said one Iraqi analyst.

It is unclear how far the initial returns will reflect the outcome. One well-informed estimate suggested that the Alliance would win 120 of the 275 seats in the National Assembly. The number of seats will be based on the proportion of votes each faction receives. About 14 million Iraqis were eligible to vote, although the turnout in Sunday’s vote has not been announced; 265,000 Iraqis abroad also cast ballots in 14 countries.

The Kurdish Alliance should come second and Mr Allawi third. But it is unlikely that Mr Allawi will survive as prime minister. The Shias who braved mortars and suicide bombers to vote will want change at the top.

More likely candidates for the post of prime minister are Ibrahim al-Ushayqir, 58 – also known by his nom de guerre, Ibrahim al-Jaafari – a doctor and leader of Dawa, who is a Deputy President in the present government.

His main opponent is Adel Abdel Mahdi, the Finance Minister, an economist who is a member of SCIRI, and was repeatedly jailed by Saddam Hussein. An alternative choice might be Dr Hussein Shahristani, a nuclear scientist and pious Shia, who was tortured by Saddam when he refused to make him a nuclear bomb.

Ayatollah Sistani, by far the most influential figure in the Shia community, was born in Iran but moved to the holy city of Najaf in Iraq in 1952.

More articles by:

Patrick Cockburn is the author of  The Rise of Islamic State: ISIS and the New Sunni Revolution.

February 19, 2019
Richard Falk – Daniel Falcone
Troublesome Possibilities: The Left and Tulsi Gabbard
Patrick Cockburn
She Didn’t Start the Fire: Why Attack the ISIS Bride?
Evaggelos Vallianatos
Literature and Theater During War: Why Euripides Still Matters
Maximilian Werner
The Night of Terror: Wyoming Game and Fish’s Latest Attempt to Close the Book on the Mark Uptain Tragedy
Conn Hallinan
Erdogan is Destined for Another Rebuke in Turkey
Nyla Ali Khan
Politics of Jammu and Kashmir: The Only Viable Way is Forward
Mark Ashwill
On the Outside Looking In: an American in Vietnam
Joyce Nelson
Sir Richard Branson’s Venezuelan-Border PR Stunt
Ron Jacobs
Day of Remembrance and the Music of Anthony Brown        
Cesar Chelala
Women’s Critical Role in Saving the Environment
February 18, 2019
Paul Street
31 Actual National Emergencies
Robert Fisk
What Happened to the Remains of Khashoggi’s Predecessor?
David Mattson
When Grizzly Bears Go Bad: Constructions of Victimhood and Blame
Julian Vigo
USMCA’s Outsourcing of Free Speech to Big Tech
George Wuerthner
How the BLM Serves the West’s Welfare Ranchers
Christopher Fons
The Crimes of Elliot Abrams
Thomas Knapp
The First Rule of AIPAC Is: You Do Not Talk about AIPAC
Mitchel Cohen
A Tale of Two Citations: Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring” and Michael Harrington’s “The Other America”
Jake Johnston
Haiti and the Collapse of a Political and Economic System
Dave Lindorff
It’s Not Just Trump and the Republicans
Laura Flanders
An End to Amazon’s Two-Bit Romance. No Low-Rent Rendezvous.
Patrick Walker
Venezuelan Coup Democrats Vomit on Green New Deal
Natalie Dowzicky
The Millennial Generation Will Tear Down Trump’s Wall
Nick Licata
Of Stress and Inequality
Joseph G. Ramsey
Waking Up on President’s Day During the Reign of Donald Trump
Elliot Sperber
Greater Than Food
Weekend Edition
February 15, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Matthew Hoh
Time for Peace in Afghanistan and an End to the Lies
Chris Floyd
Pence and the Benjamins: An Eternity of Anti-Semitism
Rob Urie
The Green New Deal, Capitalism and the State
Jim Kavanagh
The Siege of Venezuela and the Travails of Empire
Paul Street
Someone Needs to Teach These As$#oles a Lesson
Andrew Levine
World Historical Donald: Unwitting and Unwilling Author of The Green New Deal
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Third Rail-Roaded
Eric Draitser
Impacts of Exploding US Oil Production on Climate and Foreign Policy
Ron Jacobs
Maduro, Guaidó and American Exceptionalism
John Laforge
Nuclear Power Can’t Survive, Much Less Slow Climate Disruption
Joyce Nelson
Venezuela & The Mighty Wurlitzer
Jonathan Cook
In Hebron, Israel Removes the Last Restraint on Its Settlers’ Reign of Terror
Ramzy Baroud
Enough Western Meddling and Interventions: Let the Venezuelan People Decide
Robert Fantina
Congress, Israel and the Politics of “Righteous Indignation”
Dave Lindorff
Using Students, Teachers, Journalists and other Professionals as Spies Puts Everyone in Jeopardy
Kathy Kelly
What it Really Takes to Secure Peace in Afghanistan
Brian Cloughley
In Libya, “We Came, We Saw, He Died.” Now, Maduro?
Nicky Reid
The Councils Before Maduro!
Gary Leupp
“It’s All About the Benjamins, Baby”
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail