Yesterday and today news came off the wire that Ayad Allawi would accept a position in the new Iraqi government, and that his Iraqiyya bloc would be getting the portfolios for a number of ministries, among them the Ministry of Defence. Allawi will chair the National Council for Strategic Policy, which will give him oversight on many of Iraq’s policy initiatives.
With all sides agreeing on the formation of the government, there are still tremendous hurdles to climb if it is going to be productive. Will it achieve anything of significance of will it just be a clumsy facade? With so many different ideologies within the coalition, the in-fighting could be heavy. One example of this tension can be reflected in the former role of Iraq’s soon-to-be Minister of Defense (allegedly), Falah al-Naqib.
During Iraq’s Interim Government, Al-Naqib was the Minister of Interior under then Prime Minister Allawi. At this time, the United States and Iraqi governments were trying to determine what to do with the Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr and his followers. In August of 2004, Iraqi and Coalition forces ratcheted up pressure on the Sadrists, in what many saw as an attempt to end their influence once and for all. In Najaf, street battles raged and many of Sadr’s followers were killed. Naqib was even quoted as saying “We will not negotiate…we have the power to stop those people, and we’ll kick them out of the country”
Yet since that time, Iraq and its politics have seemed to come full circle. The Sadrists have survived, and their bloc will be represented in the new Iraqi cabinet, in the same governing coalition as those political figures who tried to end the Sadrist movement not so many years ago. These old rivalries are unlikely to have been resolved since that time, and it will be interesting to see if Iraqi politicians can overcome their personal and ideological grievances and govern the state.