Iraq Power-Sharing Deal Salvaged, For Now

Disagreements Remain, But Iraqiya Back in Coalition Government

There are many reasons to believe that Iraq’s coalition government wont stand the test of time, but Friday’s announcement that the Iraqiya bloc had withdrawn from the government less than a day after it started was quite a bit faster than most expected. Yet it seems that the deal is back on, for now.

Following a day of talks on Saturday Iraqiya has announced that they are rejoining the coalition government, with spokesmen saying there was a “misunderstanding” during the first meeting of parliament, which led to a walkout and condemnations by a number of Iraqiya MPs.

The most immediate issue is the broad banning of a large number of Iraqiya members ahead of the March election, and even some winning candidates after the vote. They were ostensibly banned as members of the Ba’athist movement, and part of the deal was to unban them. The walkout occurred when the Maliki government refused to lift the ban before the vote for president.

But even if this issue has been deferred, there are others, notably the appointment of Iraqiya leader Ayad Allawi as chairman of the Political Council for Strategic Policies, a position created simply to appoint him to, and which, to date, has no formal purpose or actual authority. A number of Iraqiya members have expressed concern that the position appears to be entirely “made up” and the bloc has threatened to withdraw from the coalition if nothing is found for Allawi to do.

Beyond this, the Maliki government still has to come to terms with its assorted cabinet appointees, something which itself will likely cause considerable friction among the coalition’s members. Iraqiya is not expected to get any major cabinet positions but the Kurdish bloc, which already was given the presidency despite being much smaller than Iraqiya, is said to be demanding either the Oil Ministry or the Finance Ministry as well.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.