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

Nigeria Incumbent in Tight Spot as Poll Nears

Muhammadu Buhari is running a strong challenge to Goodluck Jonathan, amid a faltering economy and Boko Haram security worries More

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo tells VOA that despite her fame, life is still a struggle as she waits for government's promise of support to arrive More

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

At least seven different indigenous groups in Ratanakiri depend mainly on forest products for their survival, say they face loss of their land, traditional way of life More

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.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More