The political party of former Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi is demanding that the U.N. intervene to keep his rivals from manipulating election results that could prevent him from forming the next government. The call coincides with a pledge by U.S. Vice President Joe Biden that the U.S. would pull out of Iraq "on schedule", if a government has been formed or not.
Mr. Allawi's al-Iraqiya bloc is calling on the U.N. to intervene in the country's months-old political stalemate and to prevent adversaries from "manipulating" results of the March 7 parliamentary election.
That plea follows a decision Thursday by Iraq's top court not to certify the results of the March election, as submitted by Iraq's High Electoral Commission.
Al-Iraqiya is also characterizing repeated maneuvers by outgoing Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to challenge electoral results as a "constitutional coup." The Iraqiya bloc won 91 seats in the next parliament to Mr. Maliki's 89, and demands that it be allowed to form the new government.
A spokesman for al-Iraqiya says that former Prime Minister Allawi continues to wait for an official nod to form the next government.
He says that al-Iraqiya continues to talk unofficially with other potential partners on forming the next government, but awaits an official nod to form the government in order to begin talks in earnest. He also insists that the right to form the new government belongs to al-Iraqiya, according to the Iraqi constitution.
Iraqi government TV, which is loyal to incumbent Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, accused the U.S. of pushing the Iraqi electoral commission to certify results of the March election so as to give Mr. Allawi the nod to form the new government.
U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Jeffrey Feltman, however, denied the charges of U.S. interference, while warning Iraq's regional neighbors not to "meddle" in the country's political conflict.
Peter Harling of the Crisis Group in Damascus says that despite all recent attempts to unblock the political stalemate in Iraq, it appears that the situation remains at an impasse:
"There is a lot of posturing, a lot of activities, numerous statements made by all sides, and numerous meetings, but nothing is really coming out of all this, other than the fact that as negotiations continue, violence is on the increase and also we see a progressive weakening of the institutions which the U.S. has painstakingly built over the past seven years," said Harling.
Harling thinks that despite the current vacuum, most Iraqi leaders understand that the ultimate solution is to form a national unity government, but without either Mr. Maliki or Mr. Allawi as Prime Minister:
"The endgame is basically a national unity government, which will be all-inclusive, encompass all key formations in Iraq and led presumably by a consensus figure, and neither Allawi nor Maliki can claim to be consensus figures," added Harling. "They are, on the contrary, very, very polarizing. So, the difficulty, at this stage, is how to get Allawi and Maliki to back down on their ambitions to be prime minister."
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden told the Washington Post Friday that the U.S. would continue to draw down its forces in Iraq this summer "on schedule," whether Iraq "has a new government or not." He indicated that the U.S. will have pulled out all, but 50,000 troops by September.