Shiite Parties Form Largest Coalition in Iraq; Ayatollahs to choose PM; Win for Iran

Shiite Parties From Largest Coalition in Iraq; Ayatollahs to Choose PM; Win for Iran

By Juan Cole

The pan-Arab London daily al-Hayat [Life] reports in Arabic that sources close to the two major Shiite coalitions have revealed that they will form a 10-person committee of “wise men” to choose the country’s prime minister.

The “wise men” will consist of or include prominent Shiite clerics chosen by Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, the spiritual leader of the Shiites, according to AP.

The move comes in the wake of the sudden announcement the night before last that the Iraqi National Alliance (Sadrists, Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, some others) and the State of Law (Islamic Mission Party or Da’wa and some others) will form a broad coalition. The step gives them a combined tally of 159 of 325 seats in parliament, only 4 short of the 51% required to form a government on the second ballot and then to rule effectively. Likely they will nevertheless seek to form a government of national unity.

The secular Iraqiya list, for which most Sunni Arabs voted denounced the move as having been orchestrated by Iran and returning Iraq to the sway of sectarian religious parties. But Iraqiya failed to form a government in its own right in part because of frictions between Sunni Arabs in the North and Kurds in the East, over the division of spoils.

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