Unconventional thinking about the Middle East.

Friday, April 24, 2009

The Political Magic of the Number '153'

This week's piece for Hudson-NY carries the title: Maliki in Trouble.

Opening paragraphs:

Ayad al-Samarrai was elected speaker of the Iraqi parliament on Sunday after garnering 153 votes. There are 275 members in the Iraqi parliament, and 138 votes were all Samarrai would have needed to pass the threshold. The ‘yea’ votes in Samarrai’s favor spell trouble for Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, since the same number could be arrayed to yield a vote of ‘no confidence’ in his cabinet.

The ‘153’ bloc is an anti-Maliki coalition, rather than a pro-Samarrai faction. Those who backed Samarrai did so with the tacit understanding that his election would be the opening act in the drama to unseat the prime minister. Some sources even claim that there is a written document bearing the signatures of the anti-Maliki conspirators, and that the plan involves mustering political momentum by mid-summer to pass the ‘no confidence’ resolution—the votes are already there, but the political atmosphere in Baghdad needs to be prepared for a showdown with Maliki, who remains popular for now.


Blogger rupert said...

The number 153 has another, more comedic significance. The book The Ascent of Rum Doodle is perhaps the funniest book I've ever read :-)

6:57 AM, April 24, 2009

Anonymous amagi said...


I am having trouble charting the course of these developments... if Maliki is out, who goes in? Where will that put the country?

10:06 AM, April 24, 2009

Blogger Nibras Kazimi نبراس الكاظمي said...

Hi amagi,

The talk is about a caretaker government for six months that prepares for national elections early next year.

Maliki is now being attacked on his strong point: security. Rising cresendo of voices saying that his government is fumbling security as regards the latest bomb attacks. The campaign is being led by the Hakims, while the Kurds are sounding conciliatory so as to deny Maliki the anti-Kurd card.



10:11 AM, April 24, 2009

Anonymous gj said...

Rumour monger as much as you like, Nibras, but my money is on Maliki to wheel, deal, outsmart and rout the lot. After all, none of the others had the benefit of weekly video conference tutorials from that rather successful practical politician, George W.

Care to set up a book and take some bets?

10:22 PM, April 24, 2009

Anonymous John in Michigan, USA said...

"the benefit of weekly video conference tutorials from that rather successful practical politician, George W"

Wow, the fur is really flying here in the comments section.

"Kurds are sounding conciliatory so as to deny Maliki the anti-Kurd card"


Thanks for your blog, Nibras, a good read as always. I suppose only time will tell what it all means.

2:46 AM, April 25, 2009

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't believe the Obama admin. would not overtly back Maliki, unless they think that he needs his chain yanked to be reminded that the he needs the Kurds more than they need him. Pechis would cut up his IA units around Khanaqin and Kirkuk if it ever comes to that- so maybe the Obama folks are not so stupid? Care to comment on why Maliki is antagonizing the Kurds when he needs them most? Especially if the Sadrists aren't smart enough to see that Maliki is the only real "nationalist" who is popular enough to make occasionally unpopular decisions? Also any chance you could write a paper on the dynamics of the Hakim/Sadr/Tehran relationship? If the Sadrists really hate Tehran, shouldn't they naturally side with who is aligned against the Hakims?Also any read on the likelihood of Sofa passing the referendum? Many, many thanks for your blog and analysis. It is excellent. Write Nibras write!

6:41 AM, April 25, 2009

Blogger Nibras Kazimi نبراس الكاظمي said...

Dear gj,

I'll take that bet! You set the terms...

Dear anonymous,

I've been writing! For example, on Maliki and Kurds, see (...follow the links!)


On Iran in Iraq:


And on SOFA/referrendum:


Cut me some slack!



11:54 AM, April 25, 2009

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'll cut you slack when you're wrong more often...anyway in case you haven't seen it, in the Feb 09 BBC poll, Q24 obliquely addresses the SOFA, in which 51% of Iraqis say that the timetable is about right or that US troops should stay longer. Would you assume that those 51% would approve the SOFA? Or would you think that Iraqi pride would override reason here? And do you expect that number to decline as politicians play to nationalist sentiments? Anyway as usual thanks for all your work.

9:20 PM, April 26, 2009

Blogger Bill Baar said...

al-Samarrai the guy from Chicago?

Tell me it ain't so...

3:57 AM, April 27, 2009

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