Monday, February 20, 2006

Update on Iraq's political scene.

The negotiations between the political parties here have reached a complicated stage as they have stopped by a number of certain points they couldn't reach an agreement on.
The negotiations in the past few days took two dimensions, one between the Kurds and the Shia and the other between the Kurds and the United Council for National Work (UCNW for short).

The Shia were optimistic about their talks with the Kurds although the latter voiced their concerns regarding three points; the participation of Allawi's bloc, the issue of Kirkuk and the proposed National Security Council (also known as the Council of Elders) which the Kurds seem very enthusiastic about as they see in it a solution that satisfies all the concerned parties.
The Shia on the other hand are skeptical about it out of fear that this council would undermine their dominance in the parliament and stop them from passing the legislations they're looking forward to.
The Shia explained their objections to this idea by saying that it might be in conflict with the jurisdictions of the parliament and the articles of the constitution.

In fact I see that creating such entity with the proposed structure will serve to limit the ambitions of the UIA and offer equal shares to the different factions in the decision-making process.

The negotiations between the Kurds and the UCNW which were backed by the American ambassador seem to be more productive at least in approximating their points of view as the involved blocs in this case are closer to secularism which relatively makes them more flexible.

The interesting and powerful statement made today by the American ambassador is considered supportive to the political line of those blocs.
Khalil Zad connected investing in Iraq and providing financial support with the presence of a nonsectarian government in Iraq and said that the only solution for Iraq lies in building a government of national unity that includes everyone and diminishes the danger of sectarian polarization that's been endangering the future of the country. This is of course a clear message to everyone that America is not willing to stand by religious parties that are trying to connect Iraq's future with the crazy dreams of Iran.

Also today, Jafari visited Ayatollah Sistani in Najaf (to get the blessings) and it looks like the UIA isn't going to make a single move without going back to their big boss.
Jafari said that Sistani stressed on the importance of accelerating the process of forming the government and on choosing competent people to fill the posts of the government.
I really don't know why Jafari made this visit if that was all what Sistani had to say! Everyone knows that competent people should be in the government and this had better happen fast…etc
I think the real purpose behind the visit was to stop the UIA from breaking apart and to get a decree from the Ayatollah that forbids the components of the UIA from leaving the bloc.
Jafari also stressed that the UIA is strong and united and that rumors about cracks between the lines of the Shia are not true.

However, the truth can be seen in the contradicting statements given by representatives of different parties within the UIA; the SCIRI and Da'wa strongly support federalism while Fadheela and the Sadrists strongly oppose it, also some say that Allawi's bloc is a redline while others have an opposite opinion.

The general feeling here is that chances to form the government within the constitutional timetable are getting less by time.
The press here is talking about the possible emergence of a bloc larger than the UIA and it is believed that this idea appeals to the Kurds but the idea is facing a big technical obstacle that is gathering the 183 votes required for electing a presidential council. All that can be gathered now is only 145 and to reach the 183 threshold they will need to break the unity of the UIA and persuade about 40 of its members to join the new bloc. Of course this is a very difficult thing to do.

The Kurds now are openly saying that they are willing to be part of this plan on one condition that the UCNW manages to attract 40+ members from the UIA according to a member of the UCNW who spoke to al-Sabah on condition of anonymity.
The same al-Sabah report mentioned that Salih al-Mutlaq told the Washington Post that he can manage to do that through influencing the Fadheela and the independents-who collective comprise nearly 1/3 of the UIA-and convincing them to join the new proposed large bloc.

In another development, I just heard that UK's foreign minister has arrived in Baghdad to discuss the political process with the Iraqi political leaders.

In my opinion, the government cannot be formed without all the rivals taking part in it and both the UIA and UCNW will need to make some concessions to reach a compromise.

No comments: