I will not discuss whether the National Alliance merits its name in both adjective and noun, despite the fact the adjective of being national may be the most misleading part of its name. I will stick to looking at whether the agreement between State Of Law (SOL) and the Iraqi National Alliance (INA) satisfies the requirements of a solid alliance or a coalition.
Despite the Alliance being first announced early in May, and despite countless meetings between the two side, we have not heard or seen one point of agreement between the two sides on matters of policy. The discussions so far have centred around the mechanisms of picking a candidate for the PM post, and the two lists could not even agree on the names that will form the committee that will set the mechanisms.
The issue is not even as simple as each list having a different PM candidate, The INA seem to have several. While SOL have endorsed Nouri Al-Maliki as their candidate since the beginning of the election campaign, the INA could not agree on a single candidate prior to or after the elections, the only thing they seem to be in agreement on is that they will not permit Nouri Al-Maliki to have another term in office.
And should it not be the case that in any alliance the focal point are the programmes agreed on and the compromises made to reach a consensus to move forward? We are yet to see a joint government programme and policies for this so-called Alliance. They have, however, managed to agree on a name, which took them about a month.
When you look at the Alliance as a parliamentary bloc, you quickly realise that they do not have a parliamentary leader, again another point of disagreement as it seems none of the prominent personalities inside the Alliance wish to take that position because it may eliminate any small chance they may have at being nominated as PM.
Outside of parliament, most media appearance seem to express hostility between the two lists, and they behave more like rivals who have been forced to cooperate with one another rather than allies. What is more telling is that the two lists are still negotiating with other lists in isolation of the alliance even though it has emerged that one of the few points they agreed on was not to negotiate as separate lists anymore.
Now since it is clear that this is not much of an alliance or not even a loose coalition, it brings us to the question of why this “Alliance” was formed. Were they forced into a coalition by regional influences? Or is its members’ sectarianism so strong that it trumps all disagreements and policy differences? Or is it just an attempt by two losing lists to climb on the shoulders of the other to form the government and nominate their PM?
This behaviour has complicated the political scene in Iraq and is beginning to destroy the idea that democracy is a viable system in the Middle East. It has also created the perception that elections are futile in bringing about any real change.