Middle East Online
By Mustafa Habib – BAGHDAD
Third time? A few days ago, the President of the semi-autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan and a considerable political force within Iraq, Massoud Barzani, announced that his party would not participate in another government led by the current Iraqi Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki.
The Iraqi Kurds are not the only ones to have made this kind of announcement. The Sadrist movement, led by cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and represented in Parliament by the Ahrar bloc, has also said they don’t want to see their former ally, al-Maliki, given a third term as Prime Minister.
Another of al-Maliki’s most important former allies, the Muwatin, or Citizen, coalition which represents the interests of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, led by another cleric Ammar al-Hakim, has expressed similar sentiments.
Both of the latter are mostly composed of Shiite Muslims, the same sect as al-Maliki. Meanwhile al-Maliki’s long time opponents – mostly Sunni Muslim blocs and parties as well as some secular blocs – have also said they won’t contemplate a third term for al-Maliki.
Al-Maliki’s bloc has won around 94 seats and it’s highly likely this share will increase to over 100 – anything from 102 to 110, analysts suggest – as the big bloc attracts smaller parties to its ranks to try and form a coalition big enough to be allowed to form the next government.
Meanwhile all of those who oppose a third term for al-Maliki number more than enough to form a government – they have around 180 seats out of Iraq’s 328 seat Parliament. And some have suggested, perhaps rather optimistically, that these groups could form a kind of grand coalition because they all have the same focus: keeping al-Maliki out. Such a coalition could be described as grand because it would cross most of Iraq’s ethnic and sectarian boundaries, uniting all those who usually jostle for political power for their own sector of Iraqi society; it would herald a true post-sectarian age for Iraqi politics.