October 28, 2005


Iraq's main Shiite parties agree to run together as electoral bloc (Edward Wong, OCTOBER 28, 2005, The New York Times)

The country's main Shiite religious parties agreed Thursday to run together as a coalition in the upcoming elections, virtually ensuring that the parties will remain a formidable force in the new government.

The move also means that the vote will largely take place along ethnic and sectarian lines, as it did in last January's elections for a transitional Parliament.

For much of the last week, the Shiite parties had been squabbling, and secular politicians, including Ayad Allawi, the American-backed former prime minister, had been hoping the alliance would fracture.

Such a break could result in more votes for the moderates. One prominent politician, Ahmad Chalabi, a deputy prime minister and onetime Pentagon darling, is almost certain to leave the Shiite alliance, but his departure would not cost the alliance many votes since he has considerably less popular support than the main religious groups.

Parties intending to take part in the elections must present a list of candidates to the Iraqi electoral commission by Friday.

The agreement by the Shiite parties, which ran together in the January elections with the blessing of Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the country's most revered Shiite cleric, came a day after three conservative Arab groups announced they would run together.

Now, it is apparent that the election will be most hotly contested along the religious versus secular divide, and the Sunni versus Shiite split: The largest vote-getters among Arabs will be the major Sunni or Shiite religious blocs on either extreme, or the large secular bloc in the middle being cobbled together by Allawi, a tough-talking former Baath Party official and operative for the Central Intelligence Agency.

Wow! That didn't take long. So the Shi'ite, who have been put in power by a conservative American administration precisely because their theology is likely to provide a basis for an American-style republic aren't the conservatives? The Ba'athist insurgents, who are supported by the Left in the West and oppose democracy, are?

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 28, 2005 8:07 AM

I think the merged Sunni parties were the Jihadist ones, not the Ba'athist, but at last even the NYT now recognizes that they're harmful ('conservative').

Posted by: Mike Earl at October 28, 2005 10:41 AM

Are saying that the Ba'athists were installed and supported by the Left?
Because the Americans are supporting the Shi'ites, in general, they could conceivably fit into your narrowminded left/right dichotomy in the left half, as they are the ones, along with the Kurds pushing for the changes of governing by the Sunnis, the conceivably right side.
The kind of rampant left/right talk that occurs on the site is rendered pretty meaningless by the fact that there is very little differences in foreign policy between Dems and Repubs, as both are the mouthpieces of greater forces that get their way with either party.

Posted by: Uma at October 28, 2005 1:32 PM


Yes, we're a conservative country so even the Democrats would be considered to the Right elsewhere. We support the Shi'a because they're likely to form likewise conservative republics.

The Ba'athists are statists, a la Europe.

Posted by: oj at October 28, 2005 1:38 PM

I thought that the Sunnis were insurgents which means that they are revolutionaires and that as revolutionaries they are leftists entitled to leftist solidarity all over the world.

I am so confused.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at October 28, 2005 5:26 PM


But not as confused as the Times.

Posted by: jim hamlen at October 28, 2005 10:56 PM