In an interview with the website of the Strategic Council on Foreign Relations, Dr. Seyed Razi Emadi stated that it was clear that Mr Tawfiq Allawi could not form a cabinet. He said there was even no consensus at the time he was nominated for the post of prime minister. We even saw some Iraqi statesmen including Mr Hadi al-Ameri saying Mr Tawfiq Allawi had been imposed and they had no other choice.
“There was no consensus even among Iraqi Shiite groups, and Mr Nouri al-Maliki, even more than Kurds and Sunnis, was opposed to Allawi because in the past there were differences between the two and Allawi was a minister when Maliki was the prime minister,” he said.
Allawi Had No Party Backing
Describing other reasons for Allawi’s failure to form a government, the university professor said: “Allawi did not have essentially party backing; it is true that he used to be a member of the Dawa Party but he had left the party and gone to Lebanon and from there to Britain; he held British citizenship and had no partisan experience. Even when he was nominated as prime minister, he was not residing in Iraq, which was a major factor for his failure.
Emadi said that the conditions of today’s Iraq are truly a legacy of colonialism. He explained that Iraq’s political fabric was built by the British in the 1920s, artificial and mosaic. The Kurds, the Shiites, and the Sunnis have not only no convergence in this structure but they always have many differences that sometimes led to military confrontations such as the time of Saddam Hussein when the war between the Baathist regime and the Kurds took place.
He emphasized that no national consensus had been formed in Iraq after the fall of Saddam’s Hussein. “Sunnis feel frustration and weakness in the power structure,” he said. The Kurds, despite the significant concessions they have gained, continue to seek independence and, if they fail to gain it, they would fight for a bigger share in the political structure of Iraq. There was unity among the Shiites at one point, but in the current situation, we see more divergence among Shiite groups than ever before.
Iraqi Groups Do Not Care About National Interests
In such a situation, the Middle East affairs analyst continued: In such a situation, it is very difficult to pick a person who wants to become prime minister and form a government because the political groups do not care about national interests in Iraq, but each party pursues its own sectarian and ethnic interests. As a matter of fact, Mr Mohamed al-Halbousi, the Speaker of the Iraqi Parliament, was one of the major opponents of Prime Minister Alawi and his opposition is also very effective. The Kurdish groups were not happy with the seats they had been given and they wanted more important ministerial posts, so they basically opposed the Allawi government.
Power Sharing System the Most Important Political Problem in Iraq
Emadi added: Among the Shiites, the Saeroon group was the main backer of Allawi followed by Fatah to some extent. On the other hand, we have seen al-Nasr, headed by Haidar al-Abadi and the State of Law Coalition, headed by Nouri al-Maliki, who is most opposed to Mr Allawi and his government. Because each of these groups is seeking a share. The reality is that the most important problem in Iraq today that has led to this widespread corruption and discontent is the power-sharing system.
He added: While widespread popular protests have diminished and they are waiting for the government to be formed, political groups are pursuing their own sectarian and partisan interests without considering that the failure of Tawfiq Allawi could bring violence back to the streets. There is basically no Iraqi national identity in Iraq. The identity of the people belonging to groups and parties before being Iraqi is Shiite, Kurdish or Sunni. In this space, the interests of national wisdom take precedence over national interests, and as a result, Tawfiq Allawi cannot form a cabinet and announces his resignation.
Allawi Had Succumbed to Pressures
The university professor cited Tawfiq Allawi’s remarks that he was unable to form a government because of pressures and obstructions: These pressures have existed in the past. Before last Thursday’s meeting, he replaced one of the ministers. In fact, he had somehow succumbed to these pressures. It was untrue that he had said that he did not want to give in to the pressures because he had already succumbed to the pressures. Meantime, he was confident that his cabinet will not win the parliament’s confidence vote.
The nomination of New Prime Minister Difficult Task
Referring to the 15-day deadline given to Barham Saleh to nominate a new prime minister, he described the move as a very difficult task, saying that in the past, Mr Barham Saleh as the head of government had been given a month-long deadline but failed to find someone and the deadline was extended. Under the current circumstances too, it is very difficult to nominate a new prime minister in about two weeks.
Emadi said that the situation in Iraq is somewhat different now and there is no need for a larger faction, adding that when such a situation comes up it may even be said that an agreement has been reached between the president and Iraqi groups over Mr Allawi’s failure; Because in the current situation, the power is in the hands of the president. He can be the Prime Minister for 15 days and nominate the prime minister without requiring a bigger faction. Nevertheless, he must win a vote of confidence from parliament. But the president still has the bargaining chip as he is the one who nominates the prime minister.
He added: It is likely for the president to nominate the prime minister but the difficult part is for the ministers to win the parliament’s vote of confidence. The Shia groups in the parliament hold 199 seats and the main loser in Allawi’s resignation is the Shiite groups. So Mr Barham Saleh too will face trouble because he must win 50 +1 votes from the parliament to be able to form a government which puts him in a difficult position.
Renewed Unrest, Street Protests Likely
The Middle East affairs analyst said the outbreak of new unrests and popular protests was very likely following the Allawi’s failure to form a government. He said the people expected the government to be formed and cooperated with the political groups by leaving the streets and staying in their homes. They wanted the formation of an independent government but this did not happen because political groups were after their own and were demanding their share of the cabinet. Therefore, the roots of protests are still there and there are high chances for the people to go back to the streets and for violence to erupt again.
“Of course today the conditions are even more dangerous than before because the Coronavirus is also widespread in Iraq and could worsen the situation if people pour into the streets,” he said. The Coronavirus may persuade people not to take to the streets, but street protests and even violence may re-emerge as the demands of the people are not met.