By Furkan Torlak / World Bulletin
It was expected that Al-Iraqiyya Alliance under Iyad Allawi’s leadership - would be assigned the task of establishing the new Iraqi government. Al-Iraqiyya Alliance showed an impressive performance by gaining the support of the Sunnis along with the Turkmens and some Shiites in the general elections as a result gained 91 chairs in the parliament. On the other hand, the State of Law Coalition and National Iraqi Alliance together gained 159 chairs thus gained the upper hand in the parliament. The new Shiite bloc with the approval of the Federal Court significantly reduced Allawi’s chance to become the new PM.
During the election period Allawi who was supported by the regional countries during the election has started another regional tour. Al-Iraqiyya leader Allawi has continued his visits that started on the 19th of May with the Jordan, Kuveyt, Turkey and Qatar. Allawi stated that he has arranged these visits to “make other Arab countries and neighbor countries to be aware of the recent developments”. In another development Allawi didn't join the dinner which was arranged Talabani to gather all the politicians who performed well in the elections. Instead Vice President Tariq Al-Hashimi and Deputy Prime Minister Rafi Al-Isavi represented the Al-Iraqiyya movement in the reception.
Allawi stated in his visits that “Efforts for forming a national government are still in proceeding” and he added that “some regional countries intervene with the Iraqi domestic affairs”. Yet, he denies that there were regional and global interventions in support of his bid to become a PM. He gives the impression that if regional countries have some knowledge on the Iraqi affairs that would be important for the stabilization of the country and other countries in the region. Therefore, he asks the countries that he visits for “not intervening the domestic affairs of Iraq and just live the issues to Iraqis.”
The sources who met with Allawi in Ankara, on the condition of anonymity that stated that Allawi visited Turkey twice in this month with the aim of gaining the supports of neighboring countries in the face of recent domestic challenges. According to the information provided by the same source, Allawi came to Turkey with invitation of Ahmed Davutoglu and requested that Turkey and other Arab countries should intervene with the internal affairs of Iraq to insecure his Premiership. This contradicts with the recent statements of Allawi whic have been condemning the foreign intervention to the internal affairs of Iraq.
Sources in Ankara also mentioned that Massoud Barzani –who is expected to visit Ankara soon- said in his last statement that the mission of establishing the government should be given to Allawi. It has been claimed that Allawi asked Turkey’s help to convince Barzani to support al-Iraqiyya. The same sources also said that although Barzani wants to be close to Allawi because of his secular approach and mounting foreign pressures, he has been making great effort for the Kurdish Alliance to stay united. On the other hand, one of the close aids to the former PM Ibrahim Jaafari, claims that the recent statements of Barzani wasn not welcomed by Jalal Talabani.
Some experts claim that Turkey supports the Allawi government in accordance with the request of US administration. According to these experts there is a “fine distinction” between the two countries approach to the issue. They say, the US support Allawi due to Maliki’s relations with Iran however, Turkey’s support comes due to Al-Iraqiyya’s performance for gaining overwhelming majority of the Sunni population. However, one of the deputies of Turkish Foreign Minister -who I talked- disagrees with this opinion.
A senior diplomat believes that, Turkey wants “powerful and comprehensive government in Iraq which will be established in accordance with the Iraqi people’s will.” He claims that Turkey pays a great attention to the Al-Iraqiyya’s emphasis on the “Iraqi identity” rather than any religious or ethnic identity. He also argues that Turkey believe that Iraqi people will say the final word on the issue. The Turkish diplomat rejects what some experts has said about Sunni emphasis of Turkey and states that “Turkey worked strongly with al-Maliki government during the reestablishing process of Iraq”.
On the other hand, one of the names closest to PM Nouri al-Maliki believes that the second tour of Allawi has a dangerous move. He blames Allawi for putting an ambitious effort to be the PM, with the foreign supports. He also stresses that Iraq shouldn not turn into Lebanon and he mentions that efforts of Jeffrey Feltman, the Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, in his recent visit was not welcomed by the Iraqis, because of this dictation of the US agenda in the country.
Ali al-Dabbagh spokes person of the Iraqi government who has given an exclusive interview to me stated that he asked Turkish PM Erdogan to be at the same distance towards all Iraqi groups as it was before the election, in his message that al-Maliki passed to PM Erdogan. According to al-Dabbagh, Prime Ministry should be given to Shiites because of their majority status in Iraq thus at this point the fact that Allawi represents the Sunni votes in general should be considered. al-Dabbagh was pointing out that Sunnis are trying to take Prime Ministry through Allawi which should be under the Shiite quota, on the other hand they want to control other important position through the Sunni quota therefore this is a cheating.
However, Davutoglu was clear that this kind of ethnic and religious distributions of responsibilities in Iraqi government is something they are against. Some Turkmen sources claim that al-Dabbagh’s meeting with Erdogan could not establish a positive dialog between them. According to these sources, Erdogan said to al-Dabbagh who asks for equal position that “will you be able to make the same offer to Iran?” Al-Dabbagh is refusing this claim and he states that they made a friendly meeting with Erdogan and such a negative dialogue has never happened between them.
A diplomat from Iraqi Foreign Ministry, supports the idea that Turkey supports the Al-Iraqiyya and there is no formal position of Iraqi foreign ministry on Allawi’s tours. Turkish experts who follow the Iraqi politics claim that Turkey tends to support Allawi’s Premiership although it is not as obvious as Arab countries’ positions. They defend that it is not awkward for Turkey who wants to be influencial in Iraq. The experts mention that Ankara has influenced the Iraqi Turkmens to be ally with Allawi. However, while doing this, Turkey is not seeking a conflcit with Iran upon an al-Iraqiyya. On the contrary, Turkey wants to strengthen national reconciliation efforts of Iraq and provide stability in the country along with a a balance for Iranian influence.
It has been believed that Allawi still remain a strong candidate to be the Prime Minister up to now. According to this view, the fact that the new Shiite bloc did not specify their candidate for prime ministry yet and oppositions for Maliki’s candidacy are all in accordance with Allawi’s interests. On the other hand, Allawi is able to ally with Kurdistan coalition and other Sunni groups and can gain 166 chairs in the Parliament to secure his Premiership.
Allawi will need the US and other regional powers to convince other political parties especially the Kurds. This is because Kurds are very doubtful about Sunni Arabs who have promised for control over “Kurds” in regions where there is controversy by using “nationalistic” discourses during their election campaigns. Also Kurds need variety of guarantees about the issues like possible reflections of Turkish support towards Allawi in the following process. Precisely, the support that Allawi looks forward appears in this critical junction.