Today in Erbil began a new round of meetings between the leaders of three of the main parliamentary blocs.
Masoud Barzani has already had two meetings, one with Jafari-who also had a meeting with Talabani-and the other with Adnan al-Dulaimi and Tariq al-Hashimi from the Accord Front.
Each delegation is carrying its own concerns and personal goals that I think will have the priority in the talks; Jafari went to Erbil to win the Kurdish approval for his nomination for a new term as head of the government.
If things move towards deciding the new PM through voting within the UIA, Jafari will be closer to winning than Abdulmahdi is especially that the Sadrists and the independents in the UIA prefer Jafari over Abdulmahdi in general. This could also be part of the recently leaked deal among the components of the UIA that grants al-Hakeem the official presidency of the UIA-we mentioned a few days ago that the UIA will become one political body instead of an alliance of several bodies-in addition to a new role as the bloc’s supreme political reference in return for endorsing Jafari’s run for PM.
This deal followed objections from the Sadrists on al-Hakeem’s negotiations in Sulaymaniya. These negotiations were considered as “unrepresentative of the UIA” and some Sadrist members said they would not commit to any deals made by al-Hakeem. The Sadrists have also declared their opposition to any agreement with the Iraqi list and considered “agreements with Allawi a redline”.
Allawi who hasn’t commented on the situation lately was not invited to any of the meetings in Kurdistan and Mehdi al-Hafidh said again that “no talks about the government should take place before the election results issue is solved…we are awaiting what the international investigators will reveal”.
Also from the Iraqi list, Adnan al-Pachachi confirmed that there had been talks with various parties but denied the rumors that his list has negotiated offers for a role in the government.
Speaking of election results, the commission said that announcing the final results will require another two weeks.
On the other hand, Salih al-Mutlaq said today that he received an invitation to join the talks in Erbil be he refused it because he “didn’t want to create a crack in the agreement with the Iraqi list”.
Al-Mutlaq doubted that the Accord Front went to Erbil to discuss the new government “since the dispute over the results isn’t over yet”.
In this regard, spokesmen from the Accord Front said that Erbil’s talks are “merely routine political talks”.
And as federalism-for-the-south is being heard more often recently especially from al-Hakeem, Adnan al-Dulaimi rejected the whole idea of creating federations in any of Iraq’s regions other than Kurdistan saying that preserving Iraq’s unity requires avoiding applying what fits Kurdistan to other regions.
Jawad al-Maliki from the UIA said in a statement that the government will almost certainly include the UIA, Kurdish alliance and the Accord Front that collectively have more than 2/3 of the seats in the parliament but “it is still possible that the UIA and the Kurds can form the government alone.
In my opinion this means that nothing is certain at all as of now!
It is anticipated that negotiations will move to Baghdad next week in the presence of Barzani who have probably decided to continue Talabani’s efforts in moderating the talks.
In another development, Maram is sending a delegation to meet Ayatollah Sistani in Najaf. It is believed that this delegation will not ask for Sistani’s blessing but according to a member of Maram, the visit will be to “inform Sistani of Maram’s demands and to verify for sure whether or not the Ayatollah had really offered his blessings to a certain list or person”.
The prominent Kurdish politician and current planning minister Barham Salih thinks it would be better to await the final results and he played down the allegations that question the integrity of the elections and said one should “put in consideration the special condition of the country”.
Salih revealed that the two Kurdish leaders had long phone calls with Ayad Allawi trying to convince him to take part in the expected summit in Baghdad.
Looking at all the news and talks from the past two weeks, it seems that our politicians haven’t accomplished anything and the political situation is pretty much the same as it was ten days ago in spite of all the meetings and negotiations. Last time after January elections it took three months after announcing the results to form a government and there was no dispute over the results then.
I think we will need more than that this time but of course the constitution has set a deadline.
So, what’s going to happen then?
I think no one knows!