Thursday, January 26, 2006

America's patience is running out, the UIA rejects pressures.

Today al-Hurra TV reported that the presidency council (Talabani, and his deputies Ghazi al-Yawir and AbdulMahdi-met in Baghdad to discuss the results of the elections and the necessity to form a government that reflects national unity. The meeting also discussed the first session of the new parliament that is planned to take place two weeks after the election authorities finish studying the objections and certifies the final results.

Although the final results were announced a week ago, there are still no serious talks about the formation of the government as apparently the various blocs need some time to fix their internal situation to be ready for such talks which everyone here expects to be tough and lengthy. So far, individual statements and not meetings are the main way of dialogue, pulse-checking and measuring reactions among the different blocs.

Anyway, there has been a meeting between a delegation of the UIA and members of the Accord Front. In this meeting, the Sunni representatives again stressed on their rejection for applying federalism on any region other than Kurdistan and they suggested an alternate project that includes leaving deciding the shape of federalism to the next parliament in 2009 since the Sunni politicians say they think that the current situation is inappropriate for raising this issue.

On the other hand, Salih al-Mutlaq said that Masoud Barzani, the president of Kurdistan will be in Baghdad soon to begin the real negotiations.

Al-Mutlaq has also revealed that there are preliminary talks between his bloc, the Accord Front, the Iraqi list and the Kurdish alliance for the purpose of forming one unified bloc that can become the largest bloc in the parliament. Al-Mutlaq described the talks as “present but haven’t matured yet and if succeed, will give rise to a new bloc than can form the government on its own”.

And in a step for the Iraqi list, Ayad Allawi visited Kurdistan and presumably had meetings with Kurdish leaders but there is detailed news on this visit.

This statement of al-Mutlaq comes in harmony with Allawi’s visit to Kurdistan and it seems that those blocs are trying to put pressure on the UIA through such statements maybe to tell the UIA that they must lower their demands.
This comes at the same time that Khalil Zad warned the winning blocs from failure in forming a national unity government and threatened that America will cut back her support to the government if formed on sectarian basis (I believe the WAPO has a story on this subect but I couldn't find the link).

Now it looks like the biggest winner in the elections is coming under severe pressures that wipe out the joy of winning and turn it into fear from losing support and being marginalized while it is already suffering from internal conflicts especially regarding the dispute over choosing a PM from the 4 current candidates who belong to different factions within the UIA.
This indicates the seriousness of the UIA’s situation and it shows that the apparent harmony doesn’t reflect the reality of the inside situation. Nadeem al-Jabiri, head of the Fadheela Party and who’s seeking to become the new PM said that his chances are getting better in winning the support of the UIA and refrained from giving further details. Al-Jabiri sounded confident despite the fact that other parties in the UIA are more inclined to choosing Jafari or AbdulMahdi.

But al-Jabiri did say that some parties in the UIA broke the deal with his party by giving them only one seat instead of 5 seats from the 19 compensatory seats that were allocated to the UIA and pointed out that most of those seats were given to the SCIRI and Badr. Al-Jabiri considered that as an unfriendly move and that he declared his objections and asked al-Hakeem to interfere to stop the discrimination practiced against al-Fadheela.
The first reaction from the UIA to Zad’s warning came from Jawad al-Maliki who rejected the “American pressure” and said that the UIA is ready to hold talks with any other party if that was in the interest of the nation but he stressed that they refuse all external pressures.

Meanwhile, the Accord Front said they will decide the shape of their role in the government according to the will of the voters who gave them their trust and in this regard the Front held an extended conference for its members, supporters and tribal affiliates and distributed a questionnaire to the participants asking for their opinion and suggestions on the role the Front should assume in the next stage.

The UN and Arab League have their role in the process too; yesterday the UN’s envoy to Iraq Ashraf Kadi said that some Iraqi political leaders have asked the UN to have a voice in the negotiations but Kadi explained that the role of the UN will be limited to providing help when requested but shall not interfere in the formation of the government.
The Arab League on its part has answered requests from some Iraqi political powers and agreed to postpone the reconciliation conference until after the new government is in place.

Few politicians are optimistic and think-or try to look so-that a government can be formed within a month; president Talabani is one of those politicians but I don’t agree with this and actually I expect the process to take at least few months that era going to be tough for sure, of course that’s if our politicians keep behaving the way they are doing right now.

And I do hope that those leaders would for once have some wisdom in reading the future and I hope that miscalculations and misunderstandings stop being a permanent trait of Iraqi politicians.

I do not want the coming four years to be wasted in waiting for another chance and I want our parliament to be a parliament of work and constructive discussions not one of sterile rhetoric and disputes.

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