Maliki Goes on Offence as Elections Approach

This may be an early omen of a conflict between the partisans currently linked to the Dawa Party and the family wing in the prime minister's office, whose influence has grown in recent years, as the prime minister’s opponents say.

Besides those alliances, the majority government project advocated by Maliki will seemingly be based on an alliance with the Sunni forces, most notably the list led by Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq, in addition to new powers such as the Iraq Coalition led by businessman Fadhil al-Dabas, who is believed to have close ties with the government.

However, Maliki needs to win more seats than the 89 seats he got in the previous elections for these alliances to be able to guarantee the 165 seats that are required to form a majority.

In the interview with Al-Manar, Maliki said that “if the elections are conducted with integrity,” then he is confident his coalition would score the biggest victory, achieving far more votes than the bloc ranking second.

The State of Law Coalition is most likely seeking to secure more than 100 seats to prevent any potential alliance between Muqtada al-Sadr and Ammar al-Hakim from forming a larger coalition than his, and thus confirm that he represents the vast majority of Shiites.

Therefore, the coalition’s rhetoric has attempted to show that competing Shiite forces have not taken a sufficiently firm position against the terrorism targeting Shiite civilians.

The prime minister's office has even issued a statement on April 8 condemning the remarks of Sadrist leader Bahaa al-Araji, who said that members of the Iraqi army lack a doctrine, which Maliki deemed as an insult to the armed forces that are fighting terrorism.

In a speech he made in Baghdad to start the coalition’s campaign on April 2, Maliki pointed out the danger of the role played by some politicians who are providing a cover for terrorism through their positions that lack support for the army and the government.

By attempting to portray his rivals as disruptive of the government and indifferent to — if not collaborative with — terrorism, Maliki is seeking to gain greater Shiite support to turn his coalition into the undisputed Shiite bloc that others cannot bypass or marginalize.

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