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*** Current News ***
Iraqiya MP: Nijaifi’s meeting with Barzani” positive and fruitful”
BAGHDAD / NINA / MP, of the Iraqiya coalition, Mohammad al-Khalidi described the meeting of the Iraqiya’s delegation, headed by Osama al-Nijaifi, with the Kurdistan Alliance in Arbil as positive and fruitful.
He told the National Iraqi News Agency / NINA / on Thursday 23, May that: “The meeting of Iraqiya’s delegation, headed by Nijaifi, with a delegation from the Kurdistan Alliance, headed by Massoud Barzani, resulted the formation joint committees to coordinate the work with regard of formation the local governments and the upcoming parliamentary elections and other political issues of the political process.”
Khalidi added: “The dialogues that took place, developed solutions to political issues as a prelude to open new horizons for joint cooperation.”
It is mentioned that Speaker of Parliament, Osama al-Nijaifi, expressed concern over what he described that, “Iraq is moving toward chasm”; he demanded to reset the political process back on its right path.
A statement issued on Wednesday, May 22, by the Presidency of Kurdistan Region, said, “The President of Kurdistan Region, Massoud Barzani, received on Wednesday the Speaker of Parliament, Osama al-Nijaifi, and the delegation accompanying him, consisted of the governors of Nineveh and Diyala, as well as Chairman of Salahuddin Provincial Council, in addition to a number of Iraqiya slate officials.”
The statement went on saying that at the meeting, Nijaifi talked of Iraq’s political crisis and security deterioration, as well as political instability and autocracy in Baghdad in addition to excluding other components and constitutional violations.
For his part, Barzani expressed concern about deepening disagreements, as well as security and political deterioration, he said, “A year ago, we warned of what we are seeing today, and have expected that the situation is going to move toward more tension and autocracy.”
Barzani stressed that, “All these problems caused by the constitutional violations and disregards to the principle of partnership.” The statement went on
It went on saying that the two sides discussed results of the provincial elections and the changes in the political map; they reviewed their views on the political developments and means to face the crisis, stressing adherence to the principle of partnership.
Vice President of Kurdistan Region, Kosert Rasoul, and number politburos members of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) attended the meeting.
I put this first because it is far and away the most important political issue for the day. Barzani and Najafi getting their resources together and eventually banding together with Hakim and Sadr will be the start of a legitimate Iraq GOI – FINALLY!! Some semblance of a balance in power is all that is needed to calm things and bring real economic reforms.
Romi hails Hakim’s initiative over meeting for all sides
Hakim called, on last Wednesday, all the political sides and the Sunni as well as the Shiite Endowment to hold a meeting at his office in Baghdad to put end for terrorism and to unify the stances.
Romi stated to AIN “This initiative will help in reducing the tensions and to eliminate the escalated terrorist attacks.”
“The disputes cannot be settled without holding dialogues among all the politicians,” he added, stressing that “Hakim is a balanced and neutral figure who is accepted by all sides.”
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Maliki’s Sectarian Populism Working Among Iraqi Shiites
By: Ali Abd-al-Amir Translated from Al-Hayat (Pan Arab).
After reaching a consensus under Iran influence, Iraqi Shiite leaders chose Nouri al-Maliki, leader of the Islamic Dawa Party and head of the Rule of Law Coalition, as prime minister in late 2010. Today, however, they do not appear to be in harmony with whom they have come to describe — publicly, such as cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, or privately in secret gatherings, such as leader of the Islamic Supreme Council Ammar al-Hakim — as “unilateral rulers,” accusing them of “state militarization” and escalation at times against the Kurds, and against the Sunnis at others…
This is a very long piece (but worth the read) which basically says both Sadr and Hakim are talking about taking a different stance with the SLC for not being good dance partners in this government. They too, have had their fill of being left out as well. I’m also thinking they don’t want to be caught on the wrong side of history on this one!!
Iran Calls the Shots on PUK Leadership Issue
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Iran has proposed a temporary leadership council for the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) in the absence of its ailing leader Jalal Talabani, and has preconditions for approving the party’s number two as Iraq’s president, officials said.
The PUK, the partner of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) in the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), has been without a leader since Talabani – who is also Iraq’s president — suffered a critical stroke in December and was flown to Germany.
Since then, five senior PUK delegations have visited Iran, testifying both to the PUK’s close ties with Tehran, and Iran’s overwhelming influence in both Iraq and the autonomous Kurdistan Region in the north.
“Iran has suggested collective leadership for the PUK through a proposed council, which is currently being discussed within the party,” said Fareed Asasard, a party leader…
So essentially, Iran has been “effectively controlling” two of the three “power legs” of the Iraqi government this whole time. It also appears Iraq is headed toward ending the foreign reign!! Replacing Talabani will be a big step towards a free and independent Iraq!!
PUK insists on the return the province’s Constitution to the parliament to amend it
Sulaymaniyah / NINA / The rapporteur of the Central Council of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, Bakhtiar Shaways confirmed the need for the PUK to review the strategic agreement between PUK and the Kurdistan Democratic Party.
Shaways said in a press statement that the return of the Constitution of the Kurdistan region to the regional parliament was agreed in Debachan meeting, which was attended by Secretary General of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), Jalal Talabani.
He noted that the changes taking place in Iraq and the Kurdistan region and the Middle East make it necessary that the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan to review the strategy agreement with the Kurdistan Democratic Party, stressing the need to return the constitution of the region to the Parliament to amend and vote on it again…
This is what all the stink over the Talabani position is really about. The PUK wants something (still) in the way of concessions. Iran is in control of the POR spot (effectively, for now) and neither are in a big hurry to give it up. We’ll see how the drama unfolds. If they lose this spot to a true Iraqi Nationalist – Maliki is cooked!!
More Interesting Headlines…
MP criticizes Allawi’s call for the Arab League and UN to intervene in Iraq
Of course the SLC is upset about this!! They don’t want anyone monkeying with their evil empire!!
Kurdish MP expresses hope for Talabani’s quick return to reunion parties
The PUK (aka – “the Kurds” in this article) are dreaming about Talabani’s return (direct from my source in Baghdad) and IF HE DID return – he’s NO SAFETY VALVE to the political process. He was a roadblock to progress. He was leveraging his position and influence (what he thought he had) with Maliki to further his minority party agenda in the KRG (against Barzani in the regional government).
Iraq’s Article 140: Underfunded, Unfair and Not Working, Critics Say
SULAIMANI, Kurdistan Region – An important government program, to return Iraqi Kurds to areas from where they were displaced under Saddam Hussein’s “Arabization” program, is underfunded, unfair and not working, Kurdish critics charge.
In the city of Kirkuk, one of the places where Saddam expelled large numbers of Kurds and replaced them with Arab families in order to tilt the balance of power against the large ethnic Kurdish population, thousands of Kurdish families are still waiting for the promised cash and help with resettlement by the Iraqi government….
*** Dinar No Spin Zone *** May 23rd
Iraq Needs a Roadmap to End Sectarian Violence
This month proved to be the deadliest in Iraq since US troops pulled out of the country. Nearly 300 people have been killed in the past week, while more than 70 were slain by several car bombs last week. The killing machine claimed lives of civilians from the Shiite and Sunni communities in what seems to be an exchange of messages by militant groups. A similar polarization divides the political class whose members exchanged blame and accusations while the sounds of deadly explosions are heard in the background
The clash is not only sectarian and personal but is also an institutional one, as exemplified by successive press conferences held by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi. After Monday’s attacks, Maliki refused Nujaifi’s calls to hold a parliamentary session to discuss the failures of the government in dealing with the security issue. Maliki said that parliament is a partner in this deterioration, urging “the members who seek to soothe the situation to avoid participation in the urgent session.” He argued that such a session would be another occasion to intensify the sectarian discourse, repeatedly criticizing parliament’s performance and accusing some unnamed members of using their immunity to support terrorism. Again, the prime minister threatened to uncover the names of those members and demanded to deprive them of immunity. On Tuesday, his coalition, State of Law, boycotted the session, which then became a consultative one due to the failure to reach the quorum.
After the session, Nujaifi held a press conference in which he accused Maliki of being the main reason for this deterioration and for the persistent crisis in the country. He claimed that Maliki is violating the constitution by stripping the parliament off its constitutional right to monitor the government and to hold its members accountable for their failures. He threatened to sue the prime minister because of the latter’s incitement against the parliament. “Maliki’s accusations regarding the parliament are unacceptable; it is this parliament that granted Maliki his powers to lead the country,” Nujaifi said in his press conference.
While most Iraqi politicians, including Maliki and Nujaifi, admit that the escalating security problem is related to political problems, it seems that no one has a vision about how to solve them. In fact, one should be surprised at how limited is the role played by the public institutions that were formed to peacefully manage political conflicts. While the ethno-sectarian polarization is converging with personal disputes and institutional confrontation, the political class does not seem to be equipped with the necessary state-craft to address the current crisis. The tendency to use violence is increasing especially as public institutions fail to address urgent social and political demands, and to secure broad legitimacy. Politicians are cynically willing to exploit such violence in order to obtain additional gains, even rhetorical ones.
Maliki declared that he will reconsider the security plan, and one day after his press conference he made significant changes in the security positions, including the replacement of Baghdad’s operations commander. Very little hope exists that such a move will de-escalate the tension and its security ramifications. In fact, it might raise again accusations by Maliki’s opponents that he is using the current instability to strengthen his grip over armed forces and to appoint his loyalists. While refusing to have any of his military aids questioned by the parliament, Maliki’s insistence to maintain the secrecy of security issues and military operations will deepen the suspicions about his increasing authoritarianism. If Iraq’s history could give any indication, security challenges have always been used to amplify the unaccountable abuses of those in power and their tendency to bypass constitutional institutions.
Any political solution will require concessions and a sort of creativity that Iraqi politicians lack. In addition, as political groups are bracing themselves for the general election next year, the conciliatory steps appear to be less profitable in a context of sectarian division and communal mobilization.
The political elite failed to reach a constitutional formula that addresses the disagreements concerning the distribution of powers and resources, federalism and center-regions relations, along the dominant feeling of alienation among Sunnis and the relationship between legislative-executive bodies within this anomalous parliamentary system. Apart from tactical moves and “initiatives” (such as Maliki’s and Nujaifi’s calls for early election), there is no road map recognizing this failure and options to overcome it. “Initiatives” coming from political leaders are not taken seriously by their opponents because of the deep distrust within the political elite. This stalemate will delegitimize the political process even further and set the conditions for the continuity or escalation of this alarming level of violence.
The common wisdom in Baghdad is that one has to wait for the next general election in 2014 and bet on a new elite deal afterward. However, building on the experience of the last election and the 10 months of negotiation that followed, the electoral outcome is not always an incentive to compromise. As Maliki opponents are voicing their distrust of any election supervised by his government, inviting him to step down before the election, there is a high probability of a scenario in which the results will be strongly contested. Furthermore, with the lack of a solution for issues raised by the protests in the Sunni areas and the increasing radicalization of some Sunni and Shiite groups, the escalation of violence could potentially jeopardize the very electoral process. Even before the election, Iraq needs a road map that can only be promoted through third parties enjoying sufficient credibility — which no Iraqi groups possess. It can be initiated or endorsed by both the Shiite Supreme cleric, Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, and the popular and widely respected Sunni cleric, Abdul-Razaq al-Saidi. Al-Sistani, the Shiite Marji, in particular, still possesses an ethical charisma that might generate the necessary pressure on the political class to reach a new deal. Such an initiative must be encouraged by the United States, Iran and Turkey, and be supported by a more active UN representative. This initiative, if seriously adopted, would reinforce recognizable rules for the game and deal with the crucial issues that existing institutions failed to address.
Any future road map should recognize that Maliki has failed in transforming himself into a unifying figure and any possibility for him to win a third term will deepen the internal division. At the same time, Maliki and his camp should be given guarantees that their role in the political process would be secured in accordance with their electoral weight. Rotation of power is important to energize the political process and motivate new deals, but it should be conducted in a way that it does not seem as a victory or defeat for anybody.
However, the questions remain whether such an initiative would ever come; whether it can overpower the deepening sectarian tension in Iraq and the region; whether those third parties are ready to engage politically to that extent; and whether the international and regional powers would tend to de-escalate the tension in Iraq before the Syrian conflict reaches a conclusion?
Harith Hasan is an Iraqi scholar and the author of Imagining the Nation: Nationalism, Sectarianism and Socio-Political Conflict in Iraq. On Twitter: @harith_hasan