Sadr Bloc Seen Gaining as Iraq Vote Nears

Will Anti-US Cleric Be Able to Pick Next Iraqi PM?

Though reliable polls in the war-torn and decidedly segmented Iraqi society are virtually impossible to come by, a flurry of polls suggest that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s “State of Law” bloc is in first place, but having alienated virtually every other bloc it is likely to be well short of forming a coalition.

And while it had been widely expected that the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council (SIIC) would be poised to replace Maliki after their coalition split last year, there seems to be no guarantee that the SIIC will even emerge as the most powerful faction in its own coalition bloc.

Incredibly as it would’ve seemed several months ago, firebrand cleric Moqtada al-Sadr’s faction seems to be gaining steam at the right time, and reportedly has a very real chance of wrestling control of the Iraqi National Alliance (INA) bloc away from the SIIC.

If that happens, and if the INA is able to form a coalition government, this would put Sadr, an outspoken opponent of America’s presence in the nation, in position to select someone loyal to him as Iraq’s next prime minister.

Any of the three key blocs in Iraqi politics, the State of Law, the INA, or the Iraqi National List (INL) are going to need not only a good showing in the election but a lot of luck with negotiations to get the necessary number of seats to form a coalition government.Such negotiations could take quite some time.

Polls also have the secularist INL continuing to do surprisingly well, despite the loss of its key Sunni allies in the “Ba’athist” affiliation bannings. The INL’s leader, former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, has accused the bannings of being politically motivated.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.