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Ali is an economist and political analyst, working at a private UK-based company. He worked previously at the World Health Organisation and has an MSc in Development Studies from SOAS. You can follow him on Twitter (@alialsaffar).

Does the open-list system exonerate the coalition?

I wrote a couple of articles that were published before the Iraqi election last week that detailed my reasons for not voting for certain parties. The response  has been overwhelmingly positive, but there have been a few murmurs of discontent, and I have been asked why I am generalising to an entire slate when the open list system allows us to vote for individuals.  The numbers released today will help me illustrate my argument.

In Baghdad, Dr Ibrahim al-Ja’afari has a total of 74,217 votes so far, trailing him is Baqir Solagh (formerly known as Bayan Jabr), with 50,807 votes. They have passed the threshold of around 35,845 votes  required, and will have a seat in parliament. So what happens to the other 53,334 votes? They get given to those that have not passed the threshold, in order of performance. So, quite conceivably, Jafa’ari’s votes may be used to haul the next best performing candidates in the INA,  Maha Mahdi (currently on 23,855) and Hakim al-Zamili (on 23,063)  into parliament. The latter, ofcourse, is the very same person I have written about in my articles, the very same person who Dr Ja’afari himself implicated in kidnappings, murders, embezzlement and extortion.

This is precisely why I am against the entire slate and not only individual candidates.

5 Comments on “Does the open-list system exonerate the coalition?”

  1. Belal Saffar March 17, 2010 at 6:36 pm #

    It was a shame to be electioneering for the “Sate of Law” Alliance in the name of your father. You have accused a number of clean and innocent perople. I’m not so sure who’s behind you, but I think you have failed to seek any crediable attention.

    I suggest you press on our honourable PM Noorie Al-Maliki if you really think Hakim Al-Zamolie was behind the kidnapping of your father. We don’t want to see a “real” criminal at large. So ask him or any other to bring Mr. Al-Zamolie back to court where he should be tried fairly. Any other talk is just a waste of time and is surely for attention seeking. This is a matter for courts not the media, and you have demonstrated to have been used by at least one political entity.

    Again, not many people feel easy with Mr. Al-Zamolie – so what’s holding anybody to capture the guy and conclude this chapter. If he is guilty, then he must pay the price. If he is not then at least you and others like me can put to rest that he was not involved. Do not be a subject to abuse. What matters is that our governemnet is now in power and we feel we relate to it. So there should not be any obsticles to fight for truth. Just a word of advice.

    • Ali Rashid March 17, 2010 at 6:50 pm #

      Hi Belal, thanks for your comment.
      I am not sure what part of my articles you disagree with. I made only two assertions, 1. That Dr Ja’afari implicated Zamili in my father’s kidnapping in a conversation I had with him on the 12th of March 2007, and 2. He is running on the same list as the person he has implicated. Two quite simple, and quite irrefutable facts in my humble opinion.

      I agree that this is a matter for the courts, however, unfortunately it is not being taken to court because every lawyer we have tried to hire has been intimidated and has ended up not accepting the case. That’s why we have had to resort to the media. Cest la vie.

      Just as an aside, even though I usually don’t humour absurdities, you may find it surprising that I did not actually vote for Maliki or State of Law, and there was certainly no electioneering involved in my motivation. It is simply the endeavour of a son yearning for justice (and the desire to expose the truth behind the hypocrisy of our politicians) that led me to write what I have.

      Kindest regards,
      Ali
      Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device

  2. Belal Saffar March 18, 2010 at 12:43 pm #

    Hi Ali. Firstly, if you say that “Dr Ja’afari implicated Zamili in my father’s kidnapping in a conversation I had with him on the 12th of March 2007”. This is your word against his which will yield nothing. I suggest you don’t use this card because it is not helping the matter in anyway; unless you want you have something personal against Dr Ja’afari. Then this is simple. Don’t get personal, just be professional in following-up the matter. But let’s think together on this. What can Dr Ja’afari do? Then and now? The kidnapping happened during PM Maliki’s office, so if PM Maliki could not do anything to free your father then who could?
    Also if Dr Ja’afari has told you this, it could be that at the time of investigation this is what he had in hand. Maybe than this changed because there were different findings as the case was (and still is) fluid and changing. I would not build much on what I hared from this person or that at the time as there was no proper information available to them. Other close people like Dr Ja’afari also mentioned the same thing about Zamili and were uneasy about him. So your argument simply does not add-up. I insist you seem to be getting personal and loosing focus over really matters in freeing or at least investigating your father’s kidnapping.

    Secondly, your claim that “He is running on the same list as the person he has implicated.” is also absurd. Simply because in politics, particularly in the situation Iraq is going through, the general interest takes priority over any personal one. I am not saying that loosing a father is a small thing, but saying that the situation in politics could deem necessary to come to partial agreement with political entities which may hold within it members like Mr Zamili. But alliances world-wide practice this and no one could tell you or me they are 100% happy with all joining members of any given alliance.

    In addition, if now “State of Law” Alliance joins forces with Iraqi National Alliance then what? Would they all become criminals?! I think you are approaching the matter from a entirely personal and emotional angle. Just think (for one moment) about the interest of Iraq. There hundreds of people like you who have lost a loved one. They can also get into this blame game. They could say there are criminals like the alleged Zamili within the “Sate of Law” Alliance. Does that make PM Maliki a criminal?! Get real. Baath Party members are now everywhere, and no political entity can 100% assure itself before others that it is 100%-criminals-free.

    With regards to your claim “every lawyer we have tried to hire has been intimidated and has ended up not accepting the case”, I thinks this is so untrue. I am sure there lawyers who could help, be it inside Iraq or even international ones outside. So I would not buy that argument at all. I agree that it is very very difficult in this political climate to trust some to take this case, but a lot can be done – particularly with NGO’s and professional lawyers outside Iraq. Also, why don’t you or a member of your family ask the current government to sort something out. Simply because they are in power, they are the friends of your father, they have the security and money on their side for any lawyer to practise deliberation, and above all your father was a senior employee in the Health Ministry. If they are not going to help him, then who on earth can trust them to run the country or help others like you.

    Ali, get your facts right before you make any accusations. And remember this easy way of blaming others is counter-effective, it is not going to help in searching for your fathers and is going to result in a lot of haram in the eyes of God. I am sure you give a damn about what God is going to ask us later.

    Kindest regards.

  3. Ali Rashid March 18, 2010 at 3:35 pm #

    Hi Belal, thanks for your response.
    I am not sure how you are certain that it’s my word against his, unless of course you’ve spoken to him about the matter and he’s denied it. Luckily, we weren’t the only people in the room at the time, and one of the people that was there is a man I spoke to the day before I published these articles, and he corroborated my account (I will give you his name if you contact me asking for it).

    I have not asked either Dr Ja’afari or Maliki to free my father. This is something that is beyond them. The difference between the two ultimately lies in the fact that Maliki has not allied himself with the person accused of the kidnapping in the first place. As for your question about a SoL/INA alliance, it is possible, and that is why I did not vote for SoL, and I made sure to tell its members here that too.

    I am not sure how absurd my assertion that Dr. Ja’afari and Zamili are running on the same list really is. It is an absolute truth. There is no room for discussion on that matter. My claims in my articles weren’t specifically personal, sure I drew on personal experiences to show how murderers and kidnappers are being accepted into the INA fold, but the fact that they do remains true and salient.

    As for your rebuttal of my claim on the lawyer. I am quite certain I am perhaps more intimate with the details that you are.

    I am fundamentally aware of what God will ask us later. And my conscience is perfectly clear. I am sure you know that I had taken a completely different (quieter) approach for over three years. As soon as I found out about the Ja’afari/Zamili fiasco I didn’t go straight to the media, I sent a letter, on October 21st 2009 to members of Tayyar al Islaah explaining the gross injustice and utter hypocrisy of the whole affair. I did not get any reply. I was only approached after my articles were published. I gave them close to 5 months and nobody explained anything to me, at which point, I changed my approach because I felt it was the right thing to do.

    I have nothing personal against Dr Ja’afari, I lost respect for all members of the INA when they accepted my father’s kidnapper into their fold, that is it. If you think I am unreasonable because of this, I pray that you will never lose your father to similar circumstances to realise how unrealistic your expectations really are.

    Best,
    Ali

  4. Hamid Ali March 21, 2010 at 2:38 pm #

    Ali,

    Your argument makes perfect sense. Surely the possibility of Zamili winning a seat in parliament as a result of being in the INA is more than enough reason to oppose the INA, the members of which are undoubtedly aware of the allegations against Zamili.

    This is nowhere more true than with those members who were close friends of your father and have specific knowledge about his case. How could they then accept to become part of an entity that could land the prime suspect (once again) in a position of authority?

    It seems as though you have exhausted all the avenues of restraint and clarification before bringing this into the public sphere. If your father’s friends in the INA had ‘game-changing’ information which exonerated Zamili, then the least they could have done would be to share this information with you.

    I disagree with Belal’s assertion that ‘the general interest takes priority over any personal one’ in this case. When kidnappings and murders take place, the red line has been crossed, and I don’t believe any amount of conciliatory political considerations can justify the joining of ranks between former comrades of your father with the person THEY accused of his kidnapping (amongst other wrongdoing). The alternative to this is to overlook all capital crimes in the interest of political utility, resulting in more victims and increased corruption.

    Speaking of conscience, the consciences at the forefront of any questioning are surely those joining ranks with the accused, given the facts they have in hand. Power is alluring, but principles shouldn’t be shed, nor red lines be crossed, in its pursuit.

    May you and your family find justice for your father, insha Allah.

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