It's time again to go back to the political process in Iraq and shed some light on the latest developments regarding the discussions for forming the new government.
Today, newspapers in Baghdad brought many relevant reports and statements given by politicians in the past day or two and most of them indicated that next Saturday will mark the beginning of what they called "the third stage" of the negotiations with a warm-up meeting scheduled for Friday (to eat some more lamb) and get ready for the next stage which is expected to be final and decisive.
Leading figures from the four major blocs pointed out that earlier discussion had led to an agreement on 23 points (out of 26) from the suggested program of the government which according to Abbas al-Bayati from the UIA is largely a summation of 3 work papers presented by the UIA, Accord Front and the Kurdish Alliance.
One of the most critical points that were agreed upon was the suggestion of establishing a 'national security committee' formerly referred to as the 'council of elders'. Adnan Pachachi from the Iraqi list and Nadeem al-Jabiri of al-Fadheela Party spoke in detail about the structure of this committee; the committee will be headed by the president and will have 19 members distributed as follows:
The president and his two deputies.
The prime minister and his two deputies.
The chairman of the parliament.
The president of the supreme federal court.
The president of Kurdistan region.
The heads of the major parliamentary blocs.
And to further breakup the allocations:
9 seats will go to the UIA.
4 seats to the Kurdish Alliance.
3 seats to the Accord Front.
2 seats to the Iraqi list (Allawi).
1 seat to the Dialogue Front (al-Mutlaq).
It seems that the structure of this committee is already accounted for, yet the responsibilities, jurisdictions and mechanism of work are not as clear because while Pachachi said that "decisions will be made by a 2/3 majority from the members of the committee and decisions will be later submitted to the parliament [if requires a legislation] or to the cabinet [if requires execution] and all decisions made by this committee will be obligatory to its members as well as the permanent government" al-Jabiri said "it will not be only an advisory board or a coordinating entity but it will not be the highest authority in the country because that would be against the constitution…the decisions of this committee will be political and not constitutional in their nature".
On the other hand AbdulKhaliq Zangana from the Kurdish bloc that these points are still being discussed and will not have a definite shape until negotiations resume next Saturday.
Some analysts and politicians were saying they believed establishing this committee was an alternate solution for replacing Jafari with another candidate to head the cabinet but some strong men in the UIA have a different opinion as expressed by Abbas al-Bayati who told al-Mashriq "Ibrahim al-Jafari is staying in his post for a second term because the agreement reached on establishing the committee means the crisis related to Jafari's nomination is over".
Meanwhile it looks like a more defined idea about 'national unity government' has started to emerge and the most common theory at the moment is to limit this 'unity' concept to the 'national security committee' and to the top3 posts (along with their deputies) while the distribution of cabinet posts is most likely going to be decided in the light of election results and what each bloc has inside the parliament.
Again, a lot of expected to come out from the next stage which starts on Saturday and the political editor at al-Sabah wrote this morning that "an informed source from the Accord Front told us that politicians will decide the name of the parliament's chairman will be decided by Saturday or Sunday and the next step will be discussing the nominations for presidency where there's a preliminary agreement on giving this post to Talabani…"
The politicians here are trying to respond to internal public pressure and international pressure and above all, time pressure but this response still does not rise to the level of the challenge, which are least described as enormous.