Unconventional thinking about the Middle East.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

An Initial Look at the Registrants for Provincial Election

Iraq’s Higher Electoral Commission released the names (Arabic link) of the politicians and political entities that had registered by the deadline that it set, and hence are eligible to compete in the provincial elections set for October.

The operative word to describe the list is ‘fragmented’.

Here are some quick notes:

Individuals: there are 224 registered candidates who are running individually out of a total number of 504 registrants. This colorful bunch includes a famous TV personality Fayiq al-Iqabi (no. 810) and a crazy ex-interim head of the Public Integrity Commission, Mousa Faraj. There are only five women running under their own names.

‘Independents’: SEVENTY-FOUR of the registered political entities use a variation of the word ‘independent’ in their names; I guess they are trying to draw a distinction between themselves and more established political parties, especially the ones that have been in power and hadn’t offered much to the voter.

What is also significant is that most of these ‘independent’ entities are selling themselves as non-sectarian and are, for the most part, using Iraqi patriotism to draw attention to their agendas.

Sunni (Tribal): Again, plenty of fragmentation; it seems that Sunni tribal associations were unable to coalesce around a single anti-Islamic Party platform. By my count, the Sunni tribal vote in Anbar is split FOUR ways (at least): Ahmad Abu Risha (no. 468), Ali al-Suleiman (no. 513), Amer al-Suleiman (no. 529), and Hamid al-Hayess (no. 638). The Sunni tribal vote in Nineveh Province, particularly among the Shammar tribe, would (at minimum) be split two ways among Fawwaz al-Jarba (no. 386) and Ajil al-Yawer (no. 867).

Sunni (non-Tribal): At least EIGHT contenders, with the Consensus bloc breaking apart: Jamal Karbouli (former [?] head of the Red Crescent, no. 469), Salman al-Jumeili (MP, former Consensus spokesman, no. 470), Khalaf Al-Alayan (no. 322), Adnan al-Duleimi (no. 270), Tariq al-Hashemi (Islamic Party, no. 262), Thamir al-Tamimi (Abu Azzam of ‘Sons of Iraq’ fame, no. 771), Salam al-Zoba’i (former Deputy Prime Minister, no. 766), and Hachim al-Hassani (formerly of the Islamic Party, no. 390).

Shia (Islamist): the “Da’awa” franchise is available under EIGHT disparate entities, NINE if one includes Adnan al-Zurfi (no. 66) who is also running but his group is not using the Da’awa tag as the others do. Take your pick: Nouri al-Maliki (Prime Minister, no. 483), the Abdel-Karim ‘Anizi faction (no. 321), Mazin Makiya (no. 527), the Izzeddin Salim faction (no. 52), Ibrahim al-Ja’afari (former Prime Minister, no. 562), and three more (no.s 706, 416, 312).

Even the much smaller Islamic Action Party is running as three fragments, no.s 5, 568, 224. One also has the option of voting for two registrants using the name ‘Hezbollah’.

Abdel-Aziz al-Hakim’s ISCI (no. 512) is a bit of a surprise too, for Hadi al-Ameri is running as ‘Badr’ (no. 8), while Adel Abdel-Mahdi (no. 756) is also striking out with his own band. In a similar manner, the imam of the Khallani Mosque, Mohammad al-Haideri, who resigned from SCIRI in 2005, has formed his own group under the name of the ‘Independent Solidarity Coalition’ (no. 518).

The pro-Sadrist Risaliyoon group, which ran in the last parliamentary elections and garnered three seats, is registered under no. 439. I couldn’t identify any other registrant as ‘Sadrist’ or pro-‘Sadrist’. The Fadhila Party bears the no. 550.

Bureaucrats such as Hussein Shahrestani (Minister of Oil, no. 508), Ibrahim Bahr al-‘Uloom (former Minister of Oil, no. 53), Ali al-Dabbagh (Government Spokesman, no. 250) and their posses are likewise in the running.

Shia (Tribal): there are dozens of contenders, but the ones that I’d watch are Hussein al-Shaalan (no. 149), Reshash al-Imareh (no. 515), and Nadim al-Sultan (no. 94).

‘Seculars’: Interestingly, Ayad Allawi is back to using his old party’s name Al-Wifaq (no. 82). There’s also Hdayb al-Haj Mahmoud (no. 84), Mithal Alusi (no. 566), the Iraqi Communist Party (no. 17), Sebham Mullah Chyad (no. 622), Ahmad Chalabi (no. 85), Abid Faysal al-Sahlani (no. 776), Tawfiq al-Yaseri (no. 634), and at least a dozen more. Ex-CIA assets such as Saad Janabi (no. 43) and Nehru Kesnezani (no. 75) are making another go of it, even though all that spook money didn’t get either much traction in the last election.

Adnan al-Janabi, a former Allawi ally who was not allowed to run in the last elections by the De-Ba’athification Commission because he had been a recipient of Saddam’s oil coupons is even listed twice for good measure.

Ethnicities: there are ELEVEN entities claiming to represent Turkumans, THREE representing the Arabs of Kirkuk, TEN Christian groups (including one for the Syriac minority), THREE scrambling for the Fayli vote, and one for the Shabaks.

Now, I don’t know how all these groups are actually going to sort things out like nationwide coalitions or province-by-province alliances come October because the Iraqi parliament has yet to pass the provincial electoral law! But it is doubtful to me that any serious coalitions—especially ones along the sectarian lines that we witnessed in the 2005 elections—can be formed in the current political atmosphere.

What’s more, apart from Baghdad, Diyala, Kirkuk and Nineveh, sectarian or ethnic coalitions would be redundant. Why would Sunnis need to run on a single slate in Anbar? Why would Shias do the same in Basra? Most of the October races are going to be intra-sectarian or intra-ethnic; most sectarian-based political parties and entities will be out to prove a point about their individual popular appeal within their own communities, while ‘patriotic’ and ‘secular’ candidates and entities will attempt to show a broader base.

If anything, the fault lines will break along Da’awa (Maliki) vs. Da’awa (Ja’afari), Hakim vs. Sadr, Sunni tribes vs. Islamic Party, and even Talabani vs. Barzani in Kirkuk.

However, the key dynamic to watch is Islamist vs. Secular, with the seculars making some inroads.

With all that I know about Iraq, I still find this stuff confusing. However, there’s an exhilaration over the ‘newness’ of if all. These are real elections, with unknown answers that only the ballot boxes will reveal.

Quick word on SOFA: it’s all hot air that’s being sensationalized for election purposes, both American and Iraqi. There’s a negotiation going on, and it’s natural to try to game the media in order to get the upper hand. But casting it as an imminent collapse of U.S.-Iraqi bilateral relations is plain ol’ silly.


Anonymous amagi said...

Thank you, Nibras! That's all you had to say!

...and thank you again. All of this is tremendously exciting to watch. History in the making, and few seem to really be paying attention!

7:51 PM, June 12, 2008

Blogger Lee said...

SOFA is a potentially contentious issue between the two nations involved. Many Koreans protest SOFA between Korea and America as a biased policy designed to protect American troops stationed there from criminal prosecution (not entirely true).

9:31 PM, June 12, 2008

Blogger RhusLancia said...

Thanks for that, Nibras.

I was a little surprised to see all the regulars standing for election at the provincial level though. Do you know how that works? For example, can Maliki be PM and also on a provincial council? That seems odd- like in the US someone being governor and a Senator.

10:11 AM, June 13, 2008

Anonymous Kafir said...


I'm with rhuslancia. In the US, a candidate has to register for a specific position he is running for (mayor, governor, senator, etc.) and also what party he is affilitiated with or "Independent."

Are you saying that they just registered to run and what they're running for will be decided later?

Has the "lists vs individuals" argument been decided yet?

10:31 AM, June 13, 2008

Blogger Nibras Kazimi نبراس الكاظمي said...

Hi rhuslancia and kafir,

I guess that most of the parties are registered in the name of their top leaders, even though Ja'afari's is listed under Falih al-Fayyah. Otherwise, I really have no answers for your questions. It's all kind of in the air pending complex political posturing. However, the re-introduction of politics in Iraqi life is in itself the whole point; the multiple compromises that must be reached among the established and rising political elite is a far more significant (and healthy) benchmark than the act of mechanically holding elections.



12:36 PM, June 13, 2008

Anonymous gj said...

I'm perplexed. Are the Sadrists not running in the provincial elections? What about in Maysan?

2:00 PM, June 13, 2008

Blogger bg said...


OT.. HT : TLWJ (Roggio)

Report: Iraqi security forces preparing
operation against Mahdi Army in Maysan


[An operation in Maysan was predicted by Nibras Kazimi on May 24. "Arrest warrants for Maysan officials are being prepared, and intelligence is being gathered about other Sadrist leaders who have gone into hiding there," Kazimi said, noting the province has long been a safe haven for the Mahdi Army and the Sadrist movement, and heavily influenced by Iran's Qods Force.]

thanks & thumbsup!!


8:51 PM, June 13, 2008

Anonymous Kafir said...

Thanks Nibras. Of course you're right. After thirty years of dictatorship, anything resembling pluralism is a plus. However, long term, I think that crazy list system will not serve the public well. I hope the Iraqis scrap it as their democracy matures.

9:11 PM, June 13, 2008

Anonymous gj said...

Overtime they'll coalesce into Democrats and Republicans in the United Provinces of Iraq, heh, heh.

10:02 PM, June 13, 2008

Blogger Brian H said...

In all this mess, I hope the IPDP makes an appearance and some kind of showing.

I've suggested that ANY party could undercut the lists by autonomously designating "ridings", naming their candidate(s) in each, and guaranteeing that any seats they won in the "listing" would be filled top down by the most successful "riding" candidates. That would assure local voters they knew who they were voting for. It would have, IMO, strong appeal and would be a winning platform.

11:34 PM, June 13, 2008

Blogger Don Cox said...

"they'll coalesce into Democrats and Republicans "_____They probably will, eventually. The two natural parties in any democracy are the Progressives and the Conservatives - the Progressives look for a golden age in the future, while the Conservatives look to a Golden Age in the past.

5:03 AM, June 14, 2008

Anonymous Tom D said...

I'd say that Conservatives believe in principles which made the past, and would make the future, golden, while Progressives are looking for a dubious new quick fix and a hand out.

Meanwhile it's wonderful to have Nibras's updates, given the total ignorance of our own "lame stream" press. I have read much of this site, and based on his knowledge of some aspects of Lebanese and Iranian particulars about which I have personal knowledge, and his association with the great Herman Kahn's Hudson Institute, I feel he is for real and reliable.

3:44 PM, June 14, 2008

Blogger Brian H said...

tom d;
you're too kind. The 'quick fix' is to give them, as the only qualified 'caring' experts, total managerial and policy control. Then everyone will be happy ... or else!

7:00 PM, June 14, 2008

Blogger bg said...


re: SOFA

once again you are correct..

US says not seeking permanent bases in Iraq


[In February, President George W. Bush acknowledged that the US would seek a military presence in Iraq for "years" but pledged that he would not establish permanent bases.

The Bush administration has said any deal with Iraq would be similar to more than 80 such pacts Washington has with other nations around the world governing the scope of US operations and providing protection for its soldiers.

It says the pact will not specify troop levels, establish permanent bases in Iraq or tie the next president's hands.]


11:02 PM, June 16, 2008

Blogger bg said...


U.S. Isn’t Seeking Permanent
Bases in Iraq, Ambassador Says

The United States is not seeking permanent military bases in Iraq as it negotiates legal and military agreements with the Iraqi government, U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan C. Crocker said June 5.

Speaking at the State Department, Crocker called published reports that the United States is trying to set up permanent bases “flatly untrue.”

“There clearly is going to be a need” for a U.S. and coalition military presence in Iraq beyond the end of the year, Crocker said. But the status of forces agreement, when adopted, “is not going to be forever, particularly as it related to the status and authority of coalition forces in Iraq,” he said.

“So I’m very comfortable saying to you – to the Iraqis, to anyone who asks – that no, indeed, we are not seeking permanent bases, either explicitly or implicitly, by just intending to stay there indefinitely,” he said.

Both the U.S. and Iraqi governments want a strategic framework agreement as quickly as possible, possibly by July, Crocker said. But he emphasized that his focus “is more on getting it done right than getting it done quick.”

The agreement will be developed through a straightforward process, and will be scrutinized not only by the Iraqi parliament, but also Iraqi public opinion, Crocker said.

“This will be a transparent process,” he said. “It will have a full debate. It will all be out there in the open.”

Once agreed to, the agreement will have far-reaching impact, the ambassador said.

“Not only will this agreement deal with the status of U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq past 2008, we also intend for it to set the broad parameters of the overall bilateral relationship in every field,” Crocker said. This will include political, diplomatic and cultural aspects - “the whole totality of the relationship,” he said.


11:05 PM, June 16, 2008

Blogger bg said...


one more (saved the best for last).. :)

Bush Calms Rumors - Says No Talks On Permanent Bases


[And as I said clearly in past speeches, this will not involve permanent bases, nor will it bind any future President to troop levels. You know, as to -- look, Eggen, you can find any voice you want in the Iraqi political scene and quote them, which is interesting, isn't it, because in the past you could only find one voice, and now you can find a myriad of voices. It's a vibrant democracy; people are debating. There's all kinds of press in the Iraqi scene, of course to the benefit of the Iraqi society.

And I deal with Prime Minister Maliki. He appreciates our presence there, and he understands that we're returning on success; as the situation merits, and the situation improves, we're bringing our troops home. And I'm pleased with the progress. I don't know whether or not it's -- the progress has made it here to Germany or not yet, but the progress in Iraq is substantial, and it's going to help change the Middle East for the better. And I love the idea of having -- giving people a chance to live in a free society. The blessings of freedom are -- shouldn't be just a regional blessing; I believe freedom is universal and I believe freedom yields peace.]

Bravo Mr. President!! (thumbsup)


11:07 PM, June 16, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...


I recommend this statement that..
These are real elections, with unknown answers that only the ballot boxes will reveal.
The time will tell what may happened in later.


12:20 AM, July 15, 2008

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