Feb 24 Iraq's political field is crowded with
alliances seeking to woo voters ahead of a national election.
Below is a list of major coalitions that will take part in the
March 7 parliamentary poll:
STATE OF LAW
* Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has created a broad-based
alliance of his Dawa party and other groups including some Sunni
tribal leaders, Shi'ite Kurds, Christians and independents.
Dawa's roots are Shi'ite Islamist, but the coalition is
running on an ostensibly non-sectarian platform. Its hopes of
capitalising on improving security have been undermined by a
series of high-profile attacks on government targets in Baghdad
and its leaders have also jumped on a controversy about banning
candidates with supposed links to Saddam Hussein's Baath party
to play on sectarian fears.
The State of Law coalition was the big winner in Jan. 2009
provincial elections when it rode to victory with a message of
security, services and a strong central state.
IRAQI NATIONAL ALLIANCE
* The INA, a mainly Shi'ite alliance, brings together the
Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council (ISCI), the country's biggest
Shi'ite party, followers of anti-American Shi'ite cleric Moqtada
al-Sadr, Basra-based Fadhila, Ahmed Chalabi, a Washington
favourite before the 2003 invasion, and a few Sunni leaders. It
is the chief rival to Maliki's coalition for the Shi'ite vote.
ISCI and the Sadrists are hoping to recapture some of the
Shi'ite vote they lost to Maliki last year. There is also
speculation that the INA could form a post-election coalition
with Maliki's group if neither wins enough seats to form a
government on its own -- a very likely outcome.
* The Kurdish coalition is dominated by the two parties that
control Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdistan region.
The Kurdish Democratic Party led by the region's president,
Masoud Barzani, and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan headed by
Iraqi President Jalal Talabani both stress Kurdish nationalism
and enjoy close ties with the West.
Their grip on the Kurdish region was weakened, though, by
the reform-minded Change bloc, which fared well in Kurdish
parliamentary polls last year and will run on its own in March.
The Kurds have played king-maker in Iraq since the 2003
invasion and will likely retain enough clout after the March 7
vote to be part of a ruling alliance with another faction.
* Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi, a Sunni Arab, former
Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, a secular Shi'ite, and senior Sunni
politician Saleh al-Mutlaq teamed up to run on a nationalist
But the alliance's plans have been complicated by moves by
an independent panel to bar Mutlaq and other Iraqiya candidates
from the election over alleged ties to Saddam Hussein's banned
Allawi's list is expected to fare quite well in the election
and the candidate ban is viewed by some politicians, in
particular Sunnis, as an attempt by the Shi'ite-led
establishment to neuter a threat.
* Interior Minister Jawad al-Bolani, a Shi'ite, Ahmed Abu
Risha, a Sunni tribal leader from western Anbar province, and
Ahmed Abdul Ghafour al-Samarai of the Sunni Endowment have
formed this cross-confessional, secular group.
Like Iraqiya, the Iraq Unity list was disproportionately
affected by the ban on candidates with alleged Baathist links.
* Tribal leaders will play an important role in the election
and are being courted by major parties. Some of Iraq's Sunni
tribal leaders sprang to prominence when U.S. forces began
backing local sheikhs against al Qaeda in 2006.
While the tribal figures are looking to branch out into
mainstream politics, they have not formed a united front and
have mainly joined forces with existing blocs.
* There have been numerous defections from the Iraqi
Accordance Front, once the country's main Sunni alliance, since
the 2005 national elections. It now consists of the Iraqi
Islamic Party (IIP) and some tribal leaders.
The group, which includes the speaker of parliament Ayad
al-Samarai, seems unlikely to garner the same number of seats as
it did in 2005 due to divisions within the Sunni electorate.
* Iraq's smaller minorities, including Turkmen, Christians,
Yazidis, Sabeans, Shabak and others, are likely to ally with
bigger electoral lists in areas where they are not dominant.
(Reporting by Suadad al-Salhy and Baghdad newsroom; Editing by