News / Middle East

    Key Iraqi Sunni Political Bloc Pulls Out of March 7 Parliamentary Election

    Multimedia

    Audio

    A key Sunni political bloc declared Saturday that it would not take part in Iraq's March 7 parliamentary election. Saleh al-Mutlak, who was banned from running by a parliamentary committee, is pulling his National Dialogue Front out of the election with just over a week to go before voting is set to begin.

    The decision by veteran Sunni politician Saleh al-Mutlak to pull his political bloc out of the approaching election poses a severe blow to the Iraqi electoral process, and gives ammunition to adversaries of any compromise.

    An appeals court recently upheld a decision by a parliamentary committee barring al-Mutlak from running, because of alleged ties to the Baath Party of deposed leader Saddam Hussein.

                      Related video report by Deborah Block

    Mutlak's spokesman, Haidar al-Mullah, told reporters that his National Dialogue Front was "boycotting the upcoming election" and urged other parties to do the same. He supported the decision by citing complaints by U.S. commander in Iraq General Ray Odierno and Ambassador Christopher Hill over Iranian interference in the electoral process.

    The parliament committee which banned dozens of prominent Sunni candidates from running in the election is led by pro-Iranian politicians Ahmad Chalabi and Ali Faisal al-Lami. Chalabi denied, Friday, on Al Hurra TV, that Iran had any responsibility in the decision.

    The withdrawal of al-Mutlak's party undermines the electoral alliance with his coalition partner and former Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, who was expected to make a strong showing in the upcoming election. Allawi's spokeswoman Mayssoun al-Damluji indicated that the rest of the coalition would resume campaigning after a decision to suspend electoral efforts three days ago.

    She says that Mr. Allawi's Iraqiya bloc [a secular coalition of tat includes Suunis and Shi'ites] has decided to resume its campaigning after consulting with supporters and an extensive study of the current situation. The decision, she added, is tied to the will of opposing parties to stop poisoning the atmosphere and creating crises.

    Marina Ottaway of the Carnegie Endowment for Peace in Washington says that Mr. Allawi's Iraqiya bloc has now lost most of its credibility, without its key Sunni Arab partner. "Concerning Mutlak and [his] Iraqiya [bloc], Iraqiya has lost much of its credibility, because the attraction of Iraqiya, to the extent that it has an attraction, was the fact that it's the only coalition that has been formed so far that included prominent Shia and prominent Sunnis," she said.

    "That coalition has now been undermined, because if Allawi runs without Mutlak, it's no longer kind of the non-sectarian coalition that it was, even if there are Sunnis. The balance has been lost, forever," she added.

    Ottaway notes that most other coalitions, including that of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki have a token representation of Sunnis, Shi'ites and Kurds, but not the wide-based support of Mr. Allawi.

    Khattar Abou Diab, who teaches politic science at the University of Paris, says that the credibility of the entire election is now lost with the withdrawal of al Mutlaq. He says that the withdrawal of Mutlak is a massive blow to the credibility of the election, even if other Sunni candidates, such as Vice President Tareq al Hashemi and the Sahwa tribal leaders stay in the ring.

    He argues that the problem in Iraq is simple: so long as there is no compromise between credible Sunni, Shi'ite and Kurdish political leaders to rebuild the Iraqi state, all efforts will be lost. He notes that former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger believes that the election may destabilize Iraq even further than it already is, rather that solidifying it.

    Top U.S. officials, as well as many Iraqi Sunni leaders, have accused Iran of pushing for the decision to ban key Sunni politicians from running in the election. Marina Ottaway thinks that it may be a "bit much to see the long arm of [Iranian] President [Mahmoud] Ahmedinejad" behind the current crisis, because Iraq, she says, "has never had much of a democratic tradition."

    Abou Diab, however, believes that the current political imbroglio has clear Iranian origins, and that Iran wants "to turn Iraq into a friendly client-state after the planned U.S. withdrawal," next August.

    You May Like

    Chechen Suspected in Istanbul Attack, but Questions Remain

    Turkish sources say North Caucasus militants involved in bombing at Ataturk airport, but name of at least one alleged attacker raises doubts

    With Johnson Out, Can a New ‘Margaret Thatcher’ Save Britain?

    Contest to replace David Cameron as Britain’s prime minister started in earnest Thursday with top candidates outlining strategy to deal with Brexit fallout

    US Finds Progress Slow Against Human Trafficking in Africa

    Africa continues to be a major source and destination for human trafficking of all kinds -- from forced labor to sexual slavery, says State Department report

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Eitheri
    X
    Jim Malone
    June 29, 2016 6:16 PM
    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora