Shi’ite Cleric’s Orders Could Halt Iraq PM No-confidence Vote

The Iraqiya list has handed over a petition demanding a no-confidence vote for Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. The petition, which was given to the Kurdish Regional Government first, will be passed on to Iraqi President Jalal Talabani. An anonymous source within Iraqiya said that they expect Talabani to then ask Speaker Osama al-Nujaifi to conduct an official vote.

In response to the petition, Maliki’s State of Law party insisted on a public referendum, which was first suggested by Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. M.P. Salman Mousawi said that the votes of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis should not be ignored. However, State of Law did not get the most votes in the 2010 elections. Iraqiya won, but it failed to seat its own candidate. Months of deal making that followed the close and controversial election allowed Maliki to retain his post.

The coalition that authored the deal known as the Arbil Agreement is now breaking apart. A new group headed by Shi’ite Moqtada a-Sadr, Kurdish President Massoud Barzani, Iraqiya leader Ayad Allawi, and Speaker of the House Osama al-Nujaifi is now looking to unseat the prime minister because he ignored various provisions of the agreement and, instead, has been consolidating power.

Separately, Grand Ayatollah Kadhim al-Hairi, an Iraqi cleric based in Iran, forbade his followers from participating alongside secular politicians in the no-confidence vote. The edict seems to be in support of Maliki who has grown close to Iranian leadership during his two terms. The order could force many Sadrists, who are one of the main groups opposed to Maliki, to opt-out of the vote altogether. Sadr is also based in Iran.

Another problem facing the Sadrist support of the vote is the risk of regional breakup. Basra province, deep within Shi’ite territory, has long been seeking semi-autonomous regional status and could use the fall of Maliki towards that end. Sadr said he would take such threats into consideration because the unity of Iraq is more important than the Maliki problem.

The Kudish blocs promised to support any decisions by Talabani, who is Kurdish, and Kurdish President Massoud Barzani.

Meanwhile, seven Iraqis were killed and five more were wounded.

In Mosul, a mayor was assassinated. Gunmen also killed a Shabak civilian. One was killed and five people were wounded in a pair of bombings.

The bodies of two male children were discovered in the Euphrates near Hilla.

Two men were killed when they bomb they were allegedly planting exploded in Tuz Khormato. Four other bombs exploded without leaving casualties.

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Author: Margaret Griffis

Margaret Griffis is a journalist from Miami Beach, Florida and has been covering Iraqi casualties for Antiwar.com since 2006.