The United Iraqi Alliance (UIA), which swept to power in the 2004 election following the US invasion and has maintained a firm grip on the nation ever since, has collapsed, leaving Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and his Dawa Party with precious few allies in the face of the January national elections.
Most of the factions that were party to the now-splintered group, and even some factions that were in the opposition have joined up with the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council (SIIC), who today announced the formation of the “Iraqi National Alliance” which will challenge Maliki for control of the government in the next vote.
In addition to including most of the smaller members of the UIA, the group also managed to secure the membership of the bloc led by cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. Sadr’s bloc has long been in the opposition and is an outspoken foe of the US occupation. Sunni and secularist parties also joined, and the press release also claimed a group calling itself “Dawa Party-Iraq,” which presumably is a small off-shoot of Maliki’s party, had joined up.
Though the Western media portrayed the announcement as an ominous sign of “increasing Iranian influence” the move by the pro-Iran SIIC was almost certainly an act of desperation following its trouncing in last January’s provincial elections by Maliki’s likewise pro-Iran Dawas. The defeat left the SIIC, long at rough parity with its partner in the old UIA, as an increasingly irrelevant member.