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How the Iraqi Election Stacks Up By: Dr. Walid Phares
FrontPageMagazine.com | Friday, January 28, 2005


On Sunday, 13 million and 900,000 Iraqi voters can cast their ballots inside the country. Another million have the same rights overseas in 14 countries. The Diaspora vote can continue for three days -- and the voting in America began today (Friday). The outside ballots will be counted under UN supervision in Abu Dhabi. The massive bloc of free voters is probably the largest since the establishment of the Arab League in 1954. Millions of equal males and females will have to choose 275 members for the upcoming national assembly of the country. But the vote will also select candidates for the provincial councils. In the northern part of the country, a local region “Iraqi Kurdistan” will vote for its 111 representatives, including non Kurds such as Turkomen, ChaldoAssyrians and Mandeans.

For the first time in 66 years, Iraqi citizens will be voting freely. According to the elections authority, 66 entities (organization, movement, gathering, party and association) have registered their candidacy. In addition 25 individuals are seeking offices outside parties and coalitions. Four of them withdrew and three have since integrated electoral tickets. Across the spectrum 9 coalitions including 49 political entities have formed in Iraq. In the “Kurdistan region” 14 lists with one coalition are placed for the race.

This never seen phenomenon in the Arab World is a real electoral Babylon. Here is a summary of the “battlefield”

COALITION MEMBERS AND CANDIDATE

1. Justice and Future: Adala wal mustaqbal

Members:

Party of Justice and Democratic Progress
Faily Kurds Organization

Number of candidated: 275

This list, mostly to the left, lined up candidates across the country with a significant number of Kurdish members.

2. Iraqi Turkmen Front

Members:

Al Jabha al Turmaniya al Iraqiya
Eili Turkmen Party
National Turkomen Party
Independent Turkomen Movement
Iraqi Turkomen Justice Party
Turkomen Islamic Movement

Number of candidated:63

This Coalition represents the mainstream Turkmen parties. It include both right wing Islamic and secular nationalists

3. Unified Iraqi Coalition (UIC )

Members:

Al I’itilaf al Iraqi al Muwahad
Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution of Iraq
Hizb al Dawa
Central Gathering Party
Badr Organization
Dawa Party –Iraq Organization
Gathering of Justice and Equality
Iraqi National Council Party
Fadhila Iraqi Party
First Democratic Party
Islamic Union of Iraq’s Turkomen
Turkomen Wafaa Movement
Faily Islamic Gathering of Iraq
Islamic Action Organization
Gathering of Future Iraq
Hizbollah Movement of Iraq
Sayid Martyrs Movement

Number of candidates: 228

Note: Considered as the main and most powerful coalition. Blessed by Ayatollah Sistani. Includes the two largest Shiite Parties. Leading Figures: Abdelaziz al Hakim of SIRI, Ibrahim al Jaafari of Dawa Party, Ahmad Jalabi of the INC, and Nuclear Scientist Hussein Sharastani. The ticket is mainly Arab Shiite with some very small minorities such as Turkomen. Accused by others of being close to Iran. In reality, it represents the “conservative religious movement,” while absorbing some elements close to Iran’s leaders, such as Muqtada al Sadr’s sympathisers. However Sistani has calibrated the coalition to maintain the “Iraqi Shiite” component in control.

4. Rafidain National Ticket

Members:

Qqa’imat al Rafidain al Wataniya
Democratic Assyrian Movement
National Chaldean Council
Syriac ChaldoAssyrian Council

Number of candidates: 28

It is known as the main Christian coalition. It headed by Yonadem Kinna, member of the Ruling Council, and includes a number of former ministers and local representatives. The Coalition is attempting to collect enough votes to get as many seats as they need to be partners with any future Coalition Government in Iraq

5. Iraqi Ticket

Members:

Al Lai’ha al Iraqiya
Iraqi National Accord Movement
Iraqi Democrats Movement
Nahda National Democratic Party
Iraqi Independent Movement
Faithful Gathering to Iraq
Notabilities Council of Iraq
Dr Raja Habeeb al Khusaai

Number of candidates: 233 or 240

Led by Prime Minister Allawi, itincludes moderate religious figures, a number of ministers such as Falah al Naqib, Tahir al Bukaa, Qassim Daoud, Rajai al Khuzaii, and many tribal leaders. The coalition is mainly Shiite with small minorities. It’s main competition is Sistani’s “list.”

6. Kurdistani Alliance Ticket

Members:

Laihat al tahaluf al Kurdistaniya
Kurdistan Patriotic Union
Democratic Kurdistan Party
Kurdistani Islamic Union
Communist Kurdistani Party
Social-Democratic Kurdish Party
National-Democratic Kurdish Union
Beit Nahrain Democratic Party
Chaldean Democratic Union Party
Assyrian National Party
The Movement of Peasants and Oppressed
Party of the Hard Workers of Kurdistan

Number of candidates: 165

This Coalition represents the mainstream Iraqi political forces, backed by Jalal Talabani and Mahmoud Barazani. Note that it is the most comprehensive list ideologically: It comprised of ethnic nationalists, Islamists, Marxists, Socialists, liberals and conservatives. The Christian representation is significant –at least on paper. Two Assyrian parties and one Chaldean Party. The ChaldoAssyrian parties have solid influence in the Diaspora, particularly in the US.

7. Iraqi National Movement and the Independent Coalition of Iraqi Civil Society

Members:

Al haraka al Wataniya al Iraqiya wal I’itilaf al Mujtamaa al Madani
Iraqi national Movement
Independent Coalition of Civil Society

Number of candidates: 172

This ticket brings together a number of civil society groups and independent liberal elements from all communities

8. The People’s Union

Members:

Ittihad al Shaab Hikmat Daoud al Hakim
Iraqi Communist Party

Number of candidates: 275

This ticket is basically the Communist Party of Iraq and its allies. Highly organized and motivated, they strongly oppose the Jihadists and call for full equality among minorities and women. Despite their small size, they have managed to present a full list of 275 candidates.

9. Gathering of Iraqi Democrats

Members:

Tajammoh al Dimucratiyeen al Iraqiyeen

Number of candidates: 70

Note: This Coalition is led by Sunni leader Adnan Pashaji and includes Ministers Mahdi al hafez, Layla abdel latif, Mayson al Damluji, Jalal al Mashta and Abd Jassim. This ticket projects itself as the most representative of the Sunnis. Pashaji has established relations with the community and with the Sunni political establishment in the Arab World.

Important tickets

Gathering “Iraqis” Iraqiyun: Led by Ghazi Yaouar, current President of Iraq. It includes 80 candidate, mostly Sunni, with Defense Minister Hazem al Shaalan and Minister Hajim al Husseini as leading figures.

The Iraqi Islamic Party: al Hizb al Islami al Iraqi:Led by Muhsin abdel Hamid, this Party is the largest Sunni organization that initially participated in the elections with 275 candidates. It refused to declare the names openly, fearing reprisals from Terrorists. A statement issued by the Party said they are withdrawing, but the list is still registered

Council of the Tribes of Mosul Majliss Asha’ir al Mosul: With 32 candidates, the group represents Arab Sunni tribes from the city and from the North West areas.

Global assessment of the “Electoral Babylon”

The sheer huge number of candidates and coalitions will create a balance of power blocking the complete control by one leader or one faction of the upcoming parliament. Leaders such as Sistani is expected to emerge as a major player in the Shiite areas, the two Kurdish chiefs Talabani and Barazani will secure their bloc at the assembly, while the rest of the forces and parties will partition the rest of the seats in smaller fragments

The candidates’ volume and the mosaic of coalitions are expected to unleash a massive post election debate about the process: A phenomenon which cannot be reversed by any attempt to establish a dominant one-man or one-party dictatorship.

Dr Walid Phares is the author of the newly released book Future Jihad. He is also a senior fellow with the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies in Washington DC.


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