US plans and the political outcome of the 2010 Iraqi Election

The 2010 Iraqi election was in general founded on sectarian and ethnic divisions. The Kurds voted for the Kurdish lists within the Kurdish bloc, while the majority of Shiites voted for the main two Shiite lists and the majority of Sunnis for three lists, including the main Sunni list of Al-Iraqiyya headed by Ayad Allawi and to a degree controlled by the Iraqi Ba’ath party.

Similarities and differences between the 2005 & 2010 elections

While both the 2005 and the 2010 elections were based on sectarian and ethnic consideratons, this was less true of the 2010 election. Also the majority of Sunnis did not participate in the 2005 election, whilst their participation in 2010 was on the same level as that of the Shiites and Kurds.

In 2010, the Kurdish bloc of several lists was the only bloc that did not include any small mixture of the other parts of the Iraqi society. On the other hand, all the main election lists of both the Shiite and Sunni blocs had small elements of the other sects, but they kept the control and leadership of their respective lists very much based on sectarian doctrines.

In general, Iraqis voted on the basis of sectarian blocs, but chose different lists within each bloc. While there were different key lists within each sectarian/ethnic bloc, this was not equally the case within each each bloc. The division within the Kurdish bloc was the most significant, followed by the division within the Shiites, and then to a lesser extent within the Sunni bloc. 

The emergence of the new Kurdish party, the Movement for Change (Gorran), with 8 seats created the biggest challenge to the main Kurdish list, the KDP and PUK list, which succeeded in gaining only 43 seats and thus reducing US influence in the Iraqi Federal Parliament. The presence of Movement for Change together with two other Kurdish Islamic parties (with 6 seats) could cause a possible key political change in Kurdish society. The three Kurdish lists represented three different political agendas within the Kurdish bloc and thus for the first time starts to create a real challenge to the two ruling parties, the KDP and PUK, in the Kurdish areas.

The Shiites were divided into two main lists, the State of Law (Dawlat Al-Kanoon) led by Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki and his Dawa party and other smaller groups, which gained 89 seats; and the Iraqi National Alliance (Al-I’itilaf Alwatany Al-Iraqi) which included the Sadrist movement and the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, ISCI, with other smaller groups, which gained 70 seats. The division in the Shiite bloc were not based on political lines, but on opposition to the practices of Al-Maliki’s government, particularly on the part of the Sadrists. This is because Al-Maliki and his Dawa party took complete control of the government, ignored the needs of the other Shiite groups and went as far as putting over 2,000 Sadrists in prison, after torturing many of them. In addition, there was large scale dissatisfaction due to the widespread corruption in many government organizations, and the inability of Al-Maliki’s government to improve the economy and create real new jobs in the face of  the continued shortages of the primary needs of the vast majority of Iraqis, including electricity, clean water and security.

This division resulted in the Sadrist movement emerging with 40 seats as the kingmaker in this election (in the 2005 election, they had only had 30 seats), while the pro-US movement, "ISCI," lost several of the 21 seats they had gained in the 2005 election, which corresponded to 17% of the 125 Shiite’s seats, resulting in only 17 seats ( 8 for ISCI + 9 for their Badr wing) which represent 10% of the 159 Shiite’s seats in this election.

The Sunnis had three lists. The main Sunni list was the Iraqi National Movement, Al-Iraqiyya, headed by Iyad Allawi (a Shiite Baathist) and several wings of the Ba’ath party and other Sunni groups, which garnered 91 seats. The Iraqi Accord (Al Tawafuq) obtained 6 seats and the smaller list of United Alliance of Iraq 4 seats.

Regrettably, the majority of Sunni’s voted for the Al-Iraqiyya list which consists of 5 blocs with other smaller groups. Three of the large groups directly representing the Ba’ath party wings such as Allawi’s Iraqi National Accord, the Iraqi Front of National Dialogue headed by Saleh Al-Mutlaq, and the National Future Gathering, with several other groups who are sympathetic to them such as the Hadbaa Party and the Renewal list headed by Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi.   

Another advantage of the 2010 election in comparison to 2005, was that the 2010 election was based on proportional representation with open lists in which the voters can vote for a specific candidate from a list or for the list itself, whilst the 2005 election was based on voting for the list only (closed list), without the voter knowing the name of the candidate they were voting for.

The US plans for the election

The US plans to interfere in the election in order to help the parties who support their plans were only insignificantly successful. The US plan was to get rid of Al Maliki’s government in the 2010 election and replace him with a combination of political coalitions that are more loyal to Washington. These incorporated the two Kurdish parties, the KDP and PUK to be the main representatives of the Kurds, the ISCI as representatives of the majority of the Shiites, and the Al-Iraqiyya list, which is controlled by Ba’ath party alliances, as representatives of the Sunnis. The US plan did not completely succeed in the Kurdish areas as the PUK and the KDP were unable to win more than 43 out of the 57 Kurdish seats, due to the ability of the Gorran party and the two Islamic Kurdish movements to prevent large scale fraud. In the Shiite areas, the ISCI votes collapsed and therefore the pro-US Shiite parties were unable to gain more then 25 to 30 seats (including the 17 ISCI seats) out off the 159 mainly Shiite seats.  

The only real tactical success for the US plans were in the Sunni areas, where with the help of a large amount of Saudi money, estimated to be in the hundreds of millions of US dollars, to be executed in a similar fashion used in the Lebanese election, exploiting the fears of the Sunni voters that they would be excluded from the new government if they didn’tt vote for Al-Iraqiyya.  The pro-US and generally Ba’athist–controlled Al-Iraqiyya list managed to gain 91 out of the 102 mainly Sunni seats.

The US effort to influence the Iraqi election moved into full swing in January 2010, when Biden visited Iraq to put pressure on Iraqi parties to cancel an Iraqi court’s order to exclude some of the leaders in the Al-Iraqiyya alliances, who were openly calling for the return of the Ba’ath party as part of the political process. Those excluded  included Sunni leaders such as Saleh Al-Mutlaq who headed the Iraqi Front of National Dialogue and Dhafer Al-Aani who headed the National Future Gathering. Biden claimed that such exclusion would indicate that Sunnis were being banned from participating in the election. However, he was not accurate as more than two-thirds of the people who were covered by the court order were Shiites and not Sunnis, who were senior members of the Ba’ath party prior to 2003.

The next phase of US involvement was carried out through its control of the majority of Iraqi members of the Independent High Electoral Commission, IHEC, and the foreign members of the United Nation Assistance Mission, UNAM, who oversaw the elections and played a major part in interfering and partially forging the final results.

Sandra Mitchell (nicknamed Madam CIA),  an American who serves as chief technical adviser" to UNAM in Baghdad, has been accused (in Arabic) from day one of the election by several Iraqi political parties of not only controlling the Independent High Electoral Commission, but also in falsifying the final results.

An Iraqi court has recently ordered  IHEC to carry out a hand recount of the election ballot papers for the Baghdad Government (represented in the Federal parliament by 68 out of 325 seats) and not to use suspicious computer programs supplied and controlled by UNAM, which were very much open to suspicious results as admitted by Mitchell in one of her technical reports on the process. The court order was taken after documented claims submitted by Al-Maliki’s list that mass fraud was carried out by  IHEC and UNAM in favour of Allawi’s  Al-Iraqiyya list.

If the hand recount results in 2 or more seats lost by Allawi’s Al-Iraqiyya list, then there will be no doubt of the involvement of the US administration in carrying out a controlled fraud in favor of its preferred candidates, using  Mitchell as its instrument — especially given that the headquarters of IHEC where the computer-controlled count was taking place was completely sealed off exclusively by units of the US army.

This is the first time in the history of the Middle East where fraud has been carried out against a governing party, as opposed to the governing party carry out the fraud.

The principal losers of the election’s fraud were the Sunni movements and parties who were not included in the pro-US alliances. This consists of the second main Sunni list, the Iraqi Accord, several Sunni groups within the 3rd Sunni group Unity Alliance of Iraq, and the Sunni parties in Al-Maliki’s list such as the Anbar Salvation National Front and the Independent Arab Movement. These groups claimed that a large number of their votes were transferred to Al-Iraqiyya with the help of Sandra Mitchell, as was reported on a large number of Arabic TV stations, newspapers and their websites (in Arabic).

The background of Iyad Allawi as a vicious Shiite Ba’athist has been well documented. He very actively participated in torturing and killing a large number of Iraqi Shiite, Kurd and Sunni progressive people during and prior to the 1963 Ba’ath party seizure of power in Iraq. Between 1968 and 1978 he was also an active member of the Baath party’s main security organisation, Hanen, responsible for the torturing and killing of thousands of members of democratic and anti-Ba’athist Iraqi organisations and parties, together with his direct participation in the machinations of British MI6 and the CIA since 1978. 

In one of his first TV interviews after the election on the Al-Iraqia TV station, Allawi openly called  for the privatization of Iraq’s oil and gas wealth. He stated that if he became Iraqi Prime Minister, he would ensure the passage of the draft "Oil and Gas Law" with some additional changes, to give more power to the international oil companies by making  production sharing  contracts (PSCs) the major policy of his government and that he would approve all the PSC’s contracts which were signed by the Kurdish Regional Government.

So we should not be surprised to see him and the Ba’ath party once more leading the US political plans to retain US control in Iraq.

It is regrettable to see Allawi winning over 400,000 mainly Sunni votes, when he was the person who ordered the two largest massacres of Sunni civilians in "Fallujah" by the US army in 2004, after being appointed as Prime Minister by the US occupying administration and their Governing Council. Nobody in Iraq’s history has ever been involved in massacring so many Sunni civilians as Iyad Allawi. 

But as in Lebanon, the few tactical successes of the US plan, with all the help of  Saudi money and the well documented claims of fraud by the US members of the UN Mission in Baghdad, did not result in strategic success for the US plans, as many commentators admitted.


1. In my analysis of the January 2, 2010, I covered in detail the Obama administration’s polices in Iraq to achieve their two main objectives. Firstly, of making Iraq the central military base to control the Persian/Arabian gulf’s wealth by the extension of the Status of Forces Agreement to keep US military bases beyond 2011. Secondly, the privatization and control of Iraq’s oil and gas wealth as part of their plans to control the oil resources of the world, and therefore I will not cover these issues in this analysis.

2. Any new Iraqi government should include the representatives of the three main segments of the Iraqi society, namely Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds, without excluding any small communities. No future government will be able to function fairly and nationally without such representation.

3. Such coalitions need to be founded on forming a new government consisting of all political parties and movements who believe in the development of the existing political process into a more democratic one. Political programs are also needed, which work to get rid of all US forces and foreign mercenaries, which are still controlling Iraq today, by no later than 2011, together with a program to develop an independent uncorrupted Iraqi economy.

4. Such coalitions need to exclude any fascist and terrorist movements such as the Ba’ath party and the affiliates of all terrorist organisations including Al-Qaida, as well as any political movements that openly call for US forces to stay longer than the end of 2011, who claim that without US forces the security situation will deteriorate, and that the US bases are necessary to prevent an "Iranian occupation of Iraq," as some openly claim today.

5. We need to recognise that the principal disagreements between the majority of Shiites on one side and Sunni parties and movements on the other side are relating to who will take control of power in Iraq, and not about sustaining or resisting the US occupation. In both camps, there are parties and movements who want to retain the US occupation and influences, as well as others who want to get rid of them.

6. The US administration planned to control the 2010 election and to influence the results of the election in order to get rid of Al-Maliki’s government and replace him with a combination of political coalitions that are more loyal to Washington’s objectives.

The US plans only had some tactical and partial success, but they were not able to change the tide within the Iraqi political process, where several parties and movements want to end the existing US military occupation, together with US political and economic control of Iraq, whilst others at a minimum want to reduce it at this stage.

7. On April 23, there was a very well organised mass bombing which killed and injured hundreds of civilians in mainly Shiite and some Sunni religious locations, with car bombs of the scale that can only be planned and executed by some of the Iraqi security organisations which are packed with members of the old Ba’athist security services and which are very much suspected by many Iraqis to be controlled by the CIA. This happened within a day of Allawi stating publicly that if his list Al-Iraqiyya  is not included in the negotiations to form the new government, then this will indicate that the Sunnis are excluded from sharing power and that this will start new sectarian massacres, similar to the sectarian slaughters of 2006-2007.

8. The 2010 election was a step forward in developing new prospects for a future democratic society in Iraq, if the Iraqi people can succeed in their struggle to get rid of all US military bases and the army of foreign mercenaries, and US and other western control of their economy.

9. The voting of a large number of the Sunni community for the Al-Iraqiyya list should not be interpreted as support by the Sunni community for retaining US influence in Iraq. The majority of Iraqi Sunnis, just as the majority of Shiites and a large part of the Iraqi Kurds, wants to end the US occupation and influence in Iraq as soon as possible. They voted in large numbers for Al-Iraqiyya because they feared what they saw as increasing Iranian and therefore Shiite influence in Iraq, and that their community would lose power to the Shiite parties and movements if they did not rally behind the Al-Iraqiyya list.  

10. The formation of new political movements such as the Gorran party in the Iraqi Kurdish regions who are opposed to the policies of the corrupt leadership of the PUK and the KDP started the recognition by a large segment of the Kurdish people that their struggle for a new democratic and progressive Kurdish society can only succeed if they work with other anti-occupation movements in other parts of Iraq and not detached from them in their struggle to end the US occupation and to build a democratic society in all parts of Iraq.

11. The other positive aspect of the 2010 election was the continuation of the downfall of the reactionary pro-US sectarian Shiite movement ISCI, which ended up with only 17 seats representing 10% out of the 159 mainly Shiite seats, and the success of the anti-US occupation Shiite Sadr movement with a powerful block of 40 seats reflecting 25% of the Shiite’s seats in the new parliament.

Munir Chalabi is an Iraqi political and oil analyst living in the UK

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