It’s official. An Iraqi court has ordered a partial recount of the March 7 election results despite assurances from the United States and United Nations that the vote was fair and free. Shortly after the elections, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki called the results “unacceptable and unreasonable” and demanded a recount. The ruling is limited to the province that includes Baghdad but the Prime Minister hopes that’s enough to move him ahead of former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi in a vote that is reminiscent of the 2000 Presidential election in the United States. “Baghdad, with a total of 70 seats, was by far the biggest prize for parties competing,” according to AFP. Mr. Maliki has said he will accept the final results but the potential for Mr. Allawi to be upended has everyone on edge and fearful of looming violence.
Mr. Maliki is pulling out all of the stops to continue in his role. Now, it even appears Mr. Maliki, a Shiite, is extending an olive branch to his rival, former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, whose party, Iraqiya, won more seats as a result of the vote. He could also be seeing the handwriting on the wall. “The Iraqiya list included the most representatives of Sunnis so they have to be partners in forming the government,” Mr. Maliki said in comments last Friday. He suggested “a national partnership” where “all components of Iraqi society must be represented.” According to The Los Angeles Times, he has “cast himself both as peacemaker and front-runner to lead the country.”
There was no response from Mr. Allawi (whom Mr. Maliki termed his “brother”) but his party was not pleased. They rebuffed the Prime Minister insisting they “are the ones who should be forming the government, not the other way around. It’s a funny offer,” a spokesman told the LA Times. However, Mr. Maliki remains adamant he should retain his post because of “changes and reforms in political, security and economic matters” that he commenced. And, in another election twist, the leader of one of Iraq’s top Shiite political parties, Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council leader Ammar al-Hakim, told the Associated Press it was doubtful either front-runner would be the next Prime Minister. “We are talking about a person who should be accepted on a national level … it’s difficult for either to gain the needed acceptance,” Mr. al-Hakim said.
Even as the political wrangling carries on, other changes are taking shape. “I fully expect us to be at 50,000 by the 1st of September,” Gen. Ray Odierno, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, told “Fox News Sunday.”
Gen. Odierno was referencing the drawdown of 45,000 U.S. Soldiers over the next four months. He believes the formation of a new government should only take “a couple of months.” In other significant turn of events, Gen. Odierno announced that Iraqi Security Forces killed two top Al-Qaeda leaders in Iraq on Saturday night. He called the news “potentially the most significant blow to al-Qaeda in Iraq since the beginning of the insurgency.” This is good news at a time when the American clock is ticking.
There is no going back. Iraq must settle its politics, form a government, roll up its sleeves, and begin to serve the people who put them there.
Scott Sadler is an experienced communicator with an in-depth expertise with crisis communications who has served in senior level positions in the federal government, Capitol Hill, and in a military theater of operation.