Iraqi Elections: The Real Winner
Shiites won Iraq’s January 30 elections with 48 percent of the vote, bringing closer the reality of a Shiite-dominated government in alliance with Iran.
The Shia United Iraqi Alliance has been allocated 140 seats in Iraq’s 275-seat transitional National Assembly—almost twice as many as its closest challenger, the Kurds, who won 75 seats. The current interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi’s party has 40 seats, with the remainder going to eight other groups.
This body is now charged with choosing a president and two vice presidents, who will then decide on a new prime minister—the most important post in the government—and the cabinet. The present favorite for prime minister looks to be current interim Vice President Ibrahim al Jaafari, head of the deeply religious Islamic Dawa Party.
Although holding a majority of seats, the Shiites must form a coalition, which will most likely be with the Kurds, in order to gain the two-thirds majority needed to pass legislation and approve a constitution.
That the new government—and constitution—will be Islamic is a given; the only question is how Islamic it will be. Though Shiite politicians—in order to prevent any secular backlash and to satisfy the United States—have said publicly that Iraq will not have a theocracy like Iran and that the clerics won’t rule directly, in reality the religious scholars already hold the real power. The clerics, specifically Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, wield enormous behind-the-scenes influence, with the Shiite parties almost being their puppets. These clerics will be the major influence in shaping Iraq’s new constitution, which will be the National Assembly’s main task along with preparing for full-term elections in December.
It is the Shiite clerical establishment of Iraq that is the real winner in Iraq’s elections. It was Sistani who insisted that elections be held on time—knowing that they would bring the Shiites to power, with the insurgency keeping many in Sunni areas away from polling stations. And already, regardless of the political leadership of the country, on the ground the clerics and various Islamic militias are more-or-less imposing Islamic law in many Shiite areas of Iraq.
Watch for a new Shiite-dominated Iraqi government to draw closer to Iran in ideology and politics. For more on this, request our free booklet The King of the South.