Shi’ite Bloc Would Trim Next Iraqi PM’s Powers

Tensions Rise as Sadr Bloc Eyes Jaafari as Next PM

The decision of who will be the next Iraqi PM remains up in the air tonight, and perhaps even more uncertain as the Sadr Movement is throwing its weight behind former Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari for the position, calling him the “moral” choice.

Sadr’s followers bring with them the weight of the Iraqi National Alliance (INA), the third place finishers, while current Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki insists he is the “only” choice and the Iraqiya party continues to push its own candidate, other former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, as the winner of the election.

But whether one of these three or someone else entirely takes the position, a growing number of the Shi’ite politicians which dominate the government are looking to seriously curb the power of the next prime minister, Under the current system, Maliki has near dictatorial powers over broad swaths of Iraqi society.

In a future government, it seems that the real power will be the Najaf Marja’iyah, a council of Shi’ite religious leaders dominated by Grand Ayatollah Sistani. With both the INA and Maliki’s State of Law bloc committed to accepting the council’s edicts as rule of law, the shift will largely depend on how much the Marja’iyah is willing to exercise its newfound power.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.