" The Dinar Daily " ........ Thursday, 14 March 2013
Baghdad's Residents Fear
Renewed Civil War
By: Mushreq Abbas for Al-Monitor Iraq Pulse. Posted on March 13.
“When a civil war erupts in Iraq, its main theater is Baghdad.” Baghdad residents know that fact. Their city has about 7 million people and was the scene of fighting between various militias in the civil war that lasted from 2006–2008.
With the Sunnis in Anbar and Mosul demonstrating against what they call the Iraqi government’s sectarianism, Baghdad residents fear that their mixed city may once again become the main arena for civil war, writes Mushreq Abbas.
Baghdad’s Sunni and Shiite Residents Fear Renewed Civil War
Author: Mushreq Abbas
Translated by: Rani Geha
The numbers show that the fighting and sectarian displacement during that war transformed Baghdad’s demography. For the first time, Baghdad acquired pure Shiite and Sunni neighborhoods.
There is no accurate census on how many Sunnis and Shiites live in Baghdad, nor can we rely on the 2009 local election results, in which Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s State and Law Coalition won 35 of the 57 city council seats. In those elections, Baghdad was a single district and the ballots were not segregated on a sectarian basis.
Despite that, the city council is 70% Shiite. The demographic distribution of the city’s residents indicates that the Sunnis are concentrated in the western part of Baghdad (al-Karkh) and the Shiites in the eastern part (al-Rusafa), with the Tigris River separating the two sides.
But that image is not perfect. There are many Shiites in al-Karkh, especially in Kadhimiya, and there are many Sunnis in al-Rusafa, especially in Adhamiya.
The Sunni tribes and towns are spread all over Baghdad, while the Shiites are concentrated in the city center. Baghdad also includes Christians, Kurds and Turkmen who are spread out throughout the city. The escalating threat of civil war is terrifying the people in Baghdad much more so than those living in the Sunni-dominated Anbar province (in the west) or the Shiite-dominated Dhi Qar province (in the south).
Baghdad’s residents are scared because their city will be the demarcation line if there is a confrontation. Controlling Baghdad will be the principal aim of the battling sides because the city is Iraq’s biggest political and economic center.
Over the past few weeks, Iraq’s Shiite forces condemned the fact that Sunni cities have raised banners demanding the “recapture of Baghdad from Iranian occupation.” The Shiites felt that those slogans were provocative and could cause sectarian strife.
Moreover, the size of the population in Baghdad and the overlapping neighborhoods make it nearly impossible to separate the neighborhoods. A confrontation would transform dozens of main thoroughfares and side streets into front lines, something that the city experienced during the civil war.
Because of these alarming possibilities, it seems that Baghdad clerics, tribal leaders, politicians and normal residents are more wary of sectarian confrontation that people in other Sunni and Shiite cities. Nevertheless, Baghdad residents did not resist the armed groups that came to town in 2006 with the declared aim of protecting the population and with the undeclared aim of fighting a civil war in a city with plenty of hiding places and plenty of targets from the other sect.
However, it is false to say that, in Baghdad, all Sunnis support the demonstrations in Anbar and Mosul and that all Shiites support the government position. Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki, whom the Sunni demonstrators accuse of governing in a sectarian manner, still enjoys the support of Sunni tribes and figures, in Baghdad and elsewhere. He received many Sunni votes in Baghdad during the 2010 elections. Also, Maliki faces a stiff Shiite opposition from Muqtada al-Sadr, who has a lot support in Baghdad.
Baghdad residents are concerned about civil war. But Iraqi politicians can still avoid a confrontation, defuse the demonstrations and prevent them from growing by reaching an agreement about what they want and on how to solve Iraq’s many crises, which have accumulated over the years. That is the option that the majority prefers.
Mushreq Abbas is a contributing writer for Al-Monitor’s Iraq Pulse. An author and journalist who has worked in the media for 15 years, he holds a degree in political science from Baghdad University. Besides writing studies and articles that covered Iraqi crises and publishing in the local, regional and foreign media, Abbas has worked since 2003 in the Iraqi media sector and co-founded media companies. He also produced a number of documentaries for different media and has managed Al-Hayat’s office in Iraq since 2005.
By: Ali Abel Sadah for Al-Monitor Iraq Pulse. Posted on March 13.
Provincial elections scheduled for April 20 will not be held on time in Anbar province. It seems that the Sunni protests are casting a shadow over the process of democratic power transition in the unstable city.
As protests continue in Iraq’s western province of Anbar, local authorities have decided to postpone provincial elections scheduled for April 20, writes Ali Abel Sadah.
Anbar Provincial Elections Postponed
Author: Ali Abel Sadah
Translated by: Steffi Chakti
On March 11, the provincial council — the legislative authority of the province — decided to postpone the elections and referred the decision to the Iraqi Election Commission on March 12 for ratification.
Deputy head of the council Sadoun Ubaid confirmed in a phone call with Al-Monitor that 19 members voted to postpone the elections under the condition of referring the decision to the Election Commission in Baghdad.
The provincial council of Anbar consists of 20 members distributed as follows: Six members belong to al-Iraqiya coalition, five to the Sahwa Party, four to the Iraqi Islamic Party, three to the al-Hal list and one belonging to the list of Iraqi sheiks, noting that all are Sunni political coalitions.
Ubaid reiterated that the postponement was due to the unstable political and security situation.
In the light of the political impasse resulting from the peaceful protests that broke out against Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s government, the postponement was unsurprising.
The decision came following a report by a committee of elders from Anbar underlining new information about the perilous situation in the province and the technical impediments within the electoral campaign that together are lowering the odds of holding elections on time.
A few months ago, the Anbar court, the executive authority in the province, formed the committee of elders under the leadership of Raad Suleiman. Since its formation, the committee has monitored the integrity standards and security situation in the province.
“We are expecting the government to agree to our demand [for postponement],” Sadoun added.
The electoral commission did not comment on the council’s demand. Al-Monitor, however, reported a key member of the commission as saying that its council is currently studying and assessing the demand to decide whether the postponement is necessary.
The provincial electoral law stipulates that “in the case that provincial elections within the province, districts and townships are postponed, the mandate of the existing councils shall be extended until the date when new elections are held.” Nevertheless, the law does not include any clause regulating postponement of elections in the province.
Politically speaking, the Sunni opposition went to even greater lengths, demanding the government be overthrown. The protests held under the banner of “The Friday of Either Iraq or Maliki” have helped to define this aim.
The protests against Maliki will likely grow in advance of the elections. There is a hope in Anbar and elsewhere that the protests can create momentum and pressure to force Maliki from office. The protesters hope that the postponement will create a trend that others will follow, leading to an election strike and further protests, as part of a campaign to force Maliki from office.
Ali Abel Sadah is a writer and journalist from Baghdad working in both Iraqi and Arab media. He was the editorial manager of a number of local newspapers, and was a political and cultural reporter for over 10 years. He has published in various newspapers and magazines covering Iraqi political affairs, human rights and civil society.
Iraqiya MP rules out the resignations of the ministers of Iraqiya and Kurds.
BAGHDAD / NINA / MP, of the Iraqiya Coalition, Nada al-Jubouri ruled out the resignation of the Kurds and Iraqiya ministers from the government. "
Jubouri said in a statement to the National Iraqi News Agency / NINA / that "The withdrawals of the Ministers do not carry the similar target, indicating that Iraqiya ministers withdrawals because the government did not discuss the demands of the demonstrators in a number of provinces, while the withdrawal of Kurd was on the dispute between the government the province and the Centre on pass the budget. "
She added: "These withdrawals will affect the government because there will be Acting administration to the ministries, noting that the dialogue between the main parties within the government is the solution to all these problems."
The Council of Ministers held a meeting in the absence of the ministers of the Iraqiya and the Kurdistan Alliance.
A familiar source told the National Iraqi News Agency / NINA / that the Council held a meeting under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.
The ministers of the Iraqiya boycotted cabinet's meetings on 8 January in protest against the non-implementation of the government to the demands of the demonstrators, while the Ministers of the Kurds were called to Irbil to consult with their leadership after approving the budget.
SLC MP calls Kurdish sides to avoid withdrawing from Government
Thursday, 14 March 2013 09:26 | | |
Baghdad (AIN) –MP, Ali Dhari, of the State of Law Coalition called the Kurdish sides to avoid withdrawing from the Federal Government because this will harm the unity of Iraq.
He stated to AIN “Kurds must understand the vote on the Budget law was a parliamentary decision based on the approval of the majority.”
“Iraq is a Federal State where no region or province has the right to make a decision without the approval of the parliamentary majority,” he stressed, noting that “Kurdistan Region has no right to be independent economically since it violates the constitution.”
“The only solution is to solve the political crisis in the country is to form a Government of parliamentary majority,” he concluded.
KA MP describes State's policy as "Unclear"
Thursday, 14 March 2013 08:49 | | |
Baghdad (AIN) –MP, Mahma Khalil, described the policy of the State as "Unclear."
Speaking to All Iraq News Agency (AIN), he said "Iraq has a big financial wealth, but the State's policy is unjust and the government is requested to find correct economic strategies in order to develop the economy of Iraq and settle its problems."
"Since 2007, the ministerial program within the governmental performance is clear and aims at having 3-4 million job opportunities and increasing the economy in about 9.8% in addition to settle the poverty ration in about 30% , but the previous budgets did not result in any achievements regarding the above mentioned aims," he added.
"The change that took place within 2013 Budget will be used for electoral purposes and not for the services or the job opportunities," he pointed out, assuring that "The security and energy sectors took about 40-50 % of the current Budget."
"In spite of allocating this ratio, the security is not sustained and the Iraqi people lack the energy where after 10 years from working on the oil production, the government could increase the production," he concluded.
Barzani: If we are not real partners in Iraq, we will take the way we see fit.
BAGHDAD / NINA / The head of the Kurdistan region, Massoud Barzani confirmed that Iraq today is in a crisis at all levels, and the crisis is not only between the province and the federal government, but includes all of Iraq.
He said in his speech in the International Conference on the definition of genocide of the Kurds, held today in Erbil, in twenty-fifth anniversary of the bombing of Halabja: "The Kurds have had big role in the establishment of Iraq," referring to Kurds' participation with all communities to prepare the constitution, voted by the Iraqis, despite its shortcomings.
He stressed that the cause of the political crises that took place is not to abide by the constitution, noting that the solution to this crisis is the implementation of the Arbil Agreement 2010, which he described as "a road map to end the crisis."
Barzani asked: "Are we partners and allies or not, if we are partners, why we are not real partners," he continued: "We do not want just words but actions and work, and if we're not partners, we will take the way that we see fit."
Barzani said: "We, as Kurds, prefer to go to the Constitution and deal with each other in a democratic Iraq in order to work together to end the crises and difficulties."
MP demands the political blocs to re-vote on the Infrastructure law.
BAGHDAD / NINA / MP, of the virtue bloc, Hussein Mura'bi called on the political blocs to re-put the Infrastructure Act to the House of Representatives for a vote and leave aside differences to serve the people.
Mura'bi told the National Iraqi News Agency / NINA / "The current budget cannot solve all the crises suffered by citizens, adding that the housing crisis alone needs two million and five hundred thousand housing units, which is costing $ 125 billion and this is equivalent to tow times of the budget that was voted on.
The House of Representatives was unable to reach an agreement to pass the law of the infrastructure, which divided the opinions around it, where some blocs see the law would tie Iraq's with debts of more than 37 billion dollars.
Vote on the law has been postponed more than once because of the withdrawals of some blocs, including the Kurdistan Alliance and the Iraqiya coalition, which led to a lack of quorum.
IS MP calls to involve IS, KA in Sadr's meeting in Baghdad
Thursday, 14 March 2013 13:49 | | |
Baghdad (AIN) –MP, Etab al-Dori, of the Iraqiya Slate called to involve the IS and the Kurdistani Alliance in the meeting called for by the head of the Sadr Trend, Muqtada al-Sadr in Kadhimiya city of Baghdad province.
In a press statement received by AIN, she said "Holding a meeting comprises the sides of the Iraqi National Alliance at the current time will result in good resolutions if it involves the leaders of the IS and the KA."
She expressed her wishes to "Achieve good resolutions from this meeting specially by holding it near the holy shrine of Imam Musa al-Kadhim that is a holy place for the Iraqi people."
Some close sources to al-Ahrar bloc within the Sadr Trend reveled that Sadr called to hold a meeting to the political leaders near the holy shrine of Imam Musa al-Kadhim to discuss the political crisis where it involves the leaders of INA.
Mhamadawi calls SLC, KA to hold dialogue to solve pending issues
Thursday, 14 March 2013 10:19 | | |
Baghdad (AIN) –The Secretary General of Brave Sons of Iraq Coalition, Abbas al-Mhamadawi, called “The State of Law Coalition and the Kurdistani Alliance to hold a dialogue session to solve the pending issues between them.”
He stated to AIN “The disputes between the Kurds and the Central Government are mainly about financial issues related to the Budget law,” noting that “These disputes could be settled easily like paying the dues of the oil foreign companies working in Kurdistan in gradual payments.”
“The media escalation will serve only some sides, especially some of the members of the Iraqiya Slate who exploit disputes between Arabs and Kurds,” he added.
“These figures will do their best to prevent Barzani from coming to Baghdad to launch dialogue,” he mentioned.
“Barzani has the key solution for the crisis if he seriously considered visiting Baghdad to discuss the problems,” he concluded.
Citizen MP accuses some INA sides of hindering settling crisis
Thursday, 14 March 2013 12:49 | | |
Baghdad (AIN) –MP, Mohammed al-Lakash, of the Citizen bloc within the Iraqi National Alliance accused some sides of INA of taking decisions without consulting the other sides and attempting to hinder settling the political crisis.
Speaking to All Iraq News Agency (AIN), he said " Some INA sides want to take the decisions without consulting the other sides and we will not allow this to happen and will reveal the reasons behind the political crisis to the citizens.'
"The INA has to hold its historical and constitutional responsibility and to achieve final decisions to settle the crisis because it is the biggest bloc in the political process," he added.
"We also called the INA to isolate the sides that attempt at hindering the settlement of the crisis," he pointed out, noting that "Settling the crisis can be achieved by conducting the dialogue and adhering to the constitution."
"The Religious Authority made the government to have the last decision over the crisis where the government has to adhere to its recommendations regarding the situation in Iraq," he assured.
He described the political crisis as "In its highest point especially after endorsing the 2013 Budget where we hoped the Kurdistani Alliance to be with us in this decision."