Saturday, December 31, 2005

New Year...New Government.

Attention is moving to Baghdad back from Sulaymaniya after the talks between the Kurdish and Shia politicians ended and according to Izzat al-Shabendar from the Iraqi list, the four major lists will begin extended talks on Monday that will last for three days to discuss the formation of the new government.

I really don’t know who matching this news is with the previous statements coming from Maram which indicated that they would not enter any negotiations on the government until election results are investigated and approved.
It’s worth mentioning that the investigation team will not be in Baghdad any earlier than Monday.

Anyway, if these talks are really going to take place, it will be a good start for breaking the ice between the rivals and will pave the way for more in-depth talks to resolve the dispute. I do not expect a final deal on the government to be born from these talks but at least it will yield some suggestions and probably basic agreements on the headlines.

The Kurds and the UIA already have a clear vision about the shape of the government and they have internal agreement between them on the principals and what supports this thought is that both parties said more than once that they have conditions to ask from other parties but not from one another.

This makes one think expect the Kurdish-Shia alliance to show little flexibility in their negotiations with the rest of parties and I don’t think they will tolerate demands the consider “exaggerated” from the Sunnis or Allawi.

In general the Kurds seem to be the most internally organized party and they managed to get the presidency post for themselves again.

Till recently, the Kurds said they’d not accept the presidency unless the president is granted extended power but now their one has changed to something like “Talabani is the best candidate for presidency”.
However, the Kurds didn’t give the UIA the full chance to make a final deal, Adnan al-Mufti chairman of the Kurdistan parliament expressed the Kurdish concern about the new government breaking the agreement they reached on Kirkuk if Jafari becomes PM again.

The Kurds will most likely push the UIA to nominate Aadil Abdulmahdi for PM, in this regard al-Mufti added “nominating the new PM is the UIA’s job but the Kurdish alliance has several reservations against Jafari’s previous government” and about the presidency issue he added “Jalal Talabani has won the trust of most people for his competence and till now, there’s no substitute for him”.

It looks like the dispute over choosing the PM has escalated within the UIA itself that instead of two candidates, there are six of them now; Abdulmahdi and Abdulkareem al-Inizi from the SCIRI, Shahristani from the independents, Jafari and Jawad al-Maliki from the Dawa and Nadeem al-Jabiri from the virtue (Fadheela) party.

Other parties and trends such as Maram welcomed the international investigators who are coming to Baghdad soon but they rejected the investigation carried out by the election commission which covered only less than 100 ballot boxes with a total of a few tens of thousands of ballots which means it cannot affect the results significantly.
The Iraqi list is asking for the results in Baghdad, Basra and Kirkuk to be thoroughly checked and they also demanded an investigation in the incident of not allowing their observers to monitor the process back on election day in those regions.

Meanwhile Baghdad is still suffering from shortage in fuel and electricity

The simple Iraqi citizen is kind of confused with al the successive statements coming from here and there, with speculations, analyses and rumors flowing in all the time from countless sources. For four decades Iraqis didn’t have freedom of speech or the freedom to hear what anyone other than the government says. All of this made people more anxious and scared because they can’t extract the real image from all this information mess. It is also noticed that the official spokesman of the government Laith Kubba who completely vanished from the scene.

Anyway, the people here wonder if all these negotiations can lead us to a positive end and they hope the rival parties can reach an agreement that is in the interest of Iraq.

Let’s all wish the new year brings the best for Iraq and Iraq’s friends.

Happy New Year!

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