Next Iraqi Govt can have deep ties to Iran / Iraq – Iraq coalition excludes PM Maliki

Iraq’s major Shia parties announced a new coalition on Monday that excludes Nouri al-Maliki, prime minister, a development that will probably force him to join forces with non-traditional allies if he seeks to keep his job after parliamentary elections in January.

If the coalition remains intact and secures a majority of seats in the January 16 vote, Iraq’s next government will probably be run by leaders with deep ties to Iran, which would considerably curb American influence as US troops continue to withdraw.

The Shia coalition will be led by the Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council, a conservative party that is among Iran’s closest allies in Iraq. It also includes the staunchly anti-American Sadr movement, as well as a few Sunni groups.

Mr Maliki’s Dawa party will not be part of the group because alliance leaders refused to guarantee that he would remain prime minister if the coalition secured a majority of seats.

An unsatisfactory end-game in Iraq. Just last January, in provincial elections, Maliki’s allies did extremely well, while the Iranian backed faction did poorly. What changed? Plainly, it was the security situation. Why did it change? In large part because American forces pulled back from the cities and Maliki has been reluctant to call for their help. As Max Boot notes, Maliki compounded the problem through foolishly over-confident measures like taking down concrete barriers in Baghdad.
To be sure, Maliki’s push to lessen the American presence helped account for his popularlity in the first instance. But he may discover that, though a clever move in the short-term, his approach to the U.S. ultimately was a bad bet for his political career, not to mention his country.
Behind the carnage in Baghdad. Iran’s links with Maliki are so close, said this Iraqi intelligence source, that the prime minister uses an Iranian jet with an Iranian crew for his official travel. The Iranians are said to have sent Maliki an offer to help his Dawa Party win at least 49 seats in January’s parliamentary elections if Maliki will make changes in his government that Iran wants.


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