The Maliki-Mutlag Alliance
The Washington Post finally caught up today with a story that was first discussed here about a month ago: the prospects of a long-term alliance between Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and Sunni MP Saleh al-Mutlag.
I have two quick points to make: basing this alliance on a re-integration of Ba'athists or Ba'athism into Iraqi politics will damage Maliki, in a major way. Anthony Shadid's copy in the WaPo failed to include the statement issued yesterday (Arabic link) by Maliki's office on a related 'talking-to-the-Ba'athists' controversy, which reads:
The Iraqi Constitution prohibits any dialogue with, or a return to the activity of, the disbanded Ba'ath Party or its participation in the political process due to having committed ugly crimes against all the components of the Iraqi people over the course of thirty five years and its propagation and exercise of sectarian and racist ideas, so we ask everyone to commit themselves to this principle towards all entities or facades of the expired Ba'ath Party.Pretty explicit, huh? There's not going to be a Da'awa-Ba'athist love fest anytime soon. In fact, I'd wager that this passing controversy has already eroded a significant part of Maliki's appeal and his opponents will always come back to it over the next few months.
The second point I'd like to make is that forming any future cabinet in Iraq will be impossible without having the Kurds on board. The Kurds will likely remain a unified bloc in the next round of parliamentary elections, and their MP cadres are distinguished by party discipline. There won't be defections or splinters. Whichever way I do the math, it is simply impossible to form a coalition government that can pass parliamentary approval without including the Kurds, who remain very pissed off at Maliki and may throw their weight to any other coalition that sidelines him (...which would naturally include Mutlag, who doesn't really care who he aligns with as long as he gets a bunch of ministerial appointments).
Lastly, this report by ABC News is interesting. Click away (...I couldn't figure out how to embed the video link. Help!)