Prospects of Shiite ‘National Alliance’ Hinge on Maliki

By Harith Hasan for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Even before the Iraqi parliamentary election results were announced, the competing Shiite groups started talking about restoring the National Alliance, composed of Iraq’s leading Shiite parties.

There was a special emphasis on the need to turn it into an effective “institution” led by a collective leadership, according to the statement on May 16 by the Islamic Fadila Party after its leadership met with that of the Islamic Supreme Council in Iraq (ISCI).

In its media rhetoric, the ISCI focused on the need to preserve the unity of the National Alliance, which brings together the Shiite forces, and prevent its disintegration in the next phase.

There were similar statements made by members of the State of Law Coalition, which is headed by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. The State of Law Coalition won the largest number of parliamentary seats, 95; the Citizen Bloc, headed by the ISCI, won 30 seats; and the blocs that represent the Sadrist movement won 34 seats.

But these “reconciliatory” statements did still not address many important questions at hand, such as: On what foundations will the Shiite alliance be built this time? What compromises are needed to reform the alliance after a bitter electoral fight among the Shiite blocs?

It could be argued that the main issue to decide whether the Shiite alliance continues or dies is the issue of whether Maliki stays in office. The State of Law Coalition feels that the election results produced a clear, popular mandate for the bloc to lead the next government and that the survival of the National Alliance depends on the rest of the Shiite forces acquiescing to the election results and recognizing that State of Law represents the vast majority of the Shiite vote.

One day after the announcement of election results on May 1, Al-Masalah website, which is close to the prime minister’s office, published an article calling on the competing Shiite forces to accept the results and acknowledge that a Shiite victory has been achieved. The article said that the Shiite alliance groups have achieved a numerical majority in the next parliament (about 174 seats out of 328 total) and called on the competing Shiite forces to recognize the victory of Maliki’s coalition and support it to lead the next government.

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