Monday, December 26, 2005

Will ten seats solve the crisis?

It’s become clear from the active shuttle-like movement of the rival parties and mediators that the intensity of the political crisis began to subside compared to how things looked like a week ago.
In spite of the violence that disturbed Baghdad this morning, the rival parties resumed their meetings and talks with some politicians playing the role of mediators; the most prominent of whom is President Talabani and even in the two main competing camps we’re hearing moderate voices emerge to propose solutions like the Virtue Party from the UIA and al-Mutlaq from Maram.

There’s another dispute taking place within the UIA itself about who gets to be the new PM. The Sadrists are objecting to the SCIRI’s nomination of Aadil Abdulmahdi. The Sadrists want Jafari to keep his position because he promised them 7 seats in the cabinet including deputy PM. The Sadrists organized at least two demonstrations in Kadhimiya and Sadr city and appeared carrying pictures of Jafari and demanding that he keeps his position.
However, the SCIRI seems determined to go on with nominating Abdulmahdi who the Sunni are relatively more ready to tolerate.

Perhaps one of the most significant meetings that took place yesterday was that of al-Mutlaq with Abdulaziz al-Hakeem; none of the men made clear public statements but al-Mutlaq said later that “everyone is planning to form a national unity government” and he revealed a suggestion to hold new elections within six months under Arab and international monitoring and he said that “we have proposed this to the UIA and the suggestion also includes disbanding the militias and forbidding the use of religious symbols and mosques for electoral campaigning…” but he didn’t say what the response of the UIA was.

On the other hand, al-Hakeem is expected to head to Kurdistan today to have a meeting with Talabani and Barzani to discuss the shape of the government and the developments of the election results talks. Khalilzad will probably be there too to attend the meeting.

A leading figure from the Accord Front told al-Sabah on condition of anonymity that the Front is asking for ten seats to be reallocated from the UIA to them in return for pulling back the Front’s objections to the results, al-Sabah’s report mention that Talabani is pushing in this direction too.
Meanwhile the Front is also looking forward to getting a good share in the compensatory seats; the results of which were expected to be announced yesterday but the announcement was delayed by the election commission for fear that they could aggravate the crisis if the results didn’t appeal to either party.

Nadeem al-Jabiri, head of the Virtue Party is trying to approximate the points of view of the major parties involved and he’s trying to convince Allawi’s list to join the government and announced that he’ll be running for PM as a solution in the middle between the two extremities of the conflict.
Noori al-Rawi, minister of culture and another looser in the elections is also trying to moderate negotiations between the UIA and Maram and in this regard he had separate meetings with Abd Mutlaq al-Juboori (vice president), tariq al-Hashimi and Hussein al-Shahristani to hear from each of them and approximate their points of view.

It also seems that meetings fever has spread to Amman/Jordan; these days there are talk going on there between members of the Accord Front, Iraqi list of Allawi, the Kurdish alliance and the UIA, a report from al-Mada paper said that American diplomacy will be represented in those meetings. The same reports said that it’s been suggested that top government posts should be distributed so that Talabani keeps the presidency, SCIRI’s Abdulmahdi gets the PM post while Tariq al-Hashimi of the Islamic Party gets the chairmanship of the parliament and Allawi gets to manage the security file.

This goes along well with what Mrs.Intisar Allawi from the Iraqi list said; she revealed that they are looking forward to be in charge of the security file in addition to getting a deputy PM or vice president post and one of the ministries of oil, monetary or trade.
Observers think that the foreign ministry will remain in Kurdish hands but Barham Salih is most likely to replace Hoshyar Zibari.

It is believed that who-gets-the-interior-and-defense-ministries is a key point in solving the dispute and the suggestion present now is that the men who should handle these tow ministries must be non-partisan or from a party that has no militias.

Al-Yosha from the UIA pointed out another contested file; that is the Iraqi media network. The Accord Front want to assume control over the media network with its two main branches (al-Sabah paper and al-Iraqia TV) but the UIA are not ready to surrender the network to anyone.

Of course calm and reasonable negotiations are not all we hear; there are also tense statements coming occasionally from here and there; Baha al-Aaraji-a Sadrist-said they “want the government to be formed according to election results and not by accordance and appeasement” adding that “if the Iraqi list is to be part of the government, their share must reflect the number of seats they the won in the election and if they make any exaggerated demands, we will refuse including them in the formation…”

On the other hand, Ayham al-Samara’i-former electricity minister and member of Maram-said that number of political bodies lining under Maram has reached 50 parties and lists and pointed out that all the 50 “have agreed on a plan to keep the pressure in the form of peaceful opposition but if no reasonable solution is reached, civil disobedience will be our next step...”.

In general, it looks like most parties want to assume peaceful ways in pursuing what they want but not everyone; the five carbombs that exploded in Baghdad today suggest that there's someone out there who intends to escalate the crisis.


The election commission announced the results of voting that took place in military bases and 15 countries outside Iraq. The four major lists scored the following numbers:

Kurdish alliance: 176,361 (36.56%)

United Iraqi Alliance: 146,191 (30.28%)

Iraqi list (Allawi): 53,576 (10.11%)

Iraqi Accord Front: 23,409 (4.85%)

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