Thursday, April 06, 2006

The solution; is it in Baghdad or in Najaf?

Right now there are more signs that indicate the political blocs will resort to the parliament to solve this political crisis over choosing a leader for the new government and this inclination is getting more momentum after it was backed by president Talabani a few days ago to which Jafari responded by saying that he accepts the challenge and that he's ready to accept its results but also warned that the presidential post is also liable for the same possibility in case he (Jafari) is voted down.

Of course the situation will be more difficult for Jafari if this is to be solved in the parliament than it was during voting on his nomination inside the UIA but this is what more and more parties are pushing for after talks have failed.

This coincides with renewed talks about a possible formation of five-party political front from the SCIRI, PUK, KDP, INA and the Islamic Party to make some form of a national rescue front to control the crisis and try to convince their allies within their corresponding blocs to join this new political body to form a bloc big enough to form a government; for example the SCIRI may try to approach some of the independent members of the UIA while the Islamic party may be able to attract a few more members from the Accord Front to get the number of votes required to appoint a prime minister.

Obviously this whole idea is not a common occurrence among other mature democracies but it still can stand as a reasonable alternative to end this deadlock.

But still, this idea will be opposed by some clerics who fear this could lead the UIA to disintegrate, namely Ayatollah Sistani whose office lately "inquired from members of the UIA about the latest statements made regarding the issue of Jafari's nomination and told them to unite their lines and keep the UIA in one mass and to preserve the votes and rights of the voters.."

The SCIRI is trying to reassure the concerned parties that this internal conflict inside the UIA will not lead the bloc to break up but Sistani's concerns that are based on what he hears suggest that what he had been told of about the nature of the conflict inside the UIA is true. Actually it seems that that the battle for the premiership has traveled to Kerbala and Najaf that recently have been witnessing tense security situations, a friend of mine from that area informed me that everyone is on high alert after a dispute erupted between the clergies in the two cities and that this dispute is being fueled by complaints raised by tribes from a power monopoly practiced by some Najafi families. In fact this is an old struggle for power that has surfaced again. Fear from this conflict was expressed by the governor of Najaf who recently said that "the conflict in Baghdad is reaching Najaf and we expect there will be more unrest here".

We don't know what the battle in the parliament is going to look like but it certainly is expected to be decisive and better than the daily sterile exchange of warnings and accusations.

But then again I do not believe Ayatollah Sistani-with all due respect-has the power to solve the bigger crisis even if he is able to make the Shia parties reach agreement among themselves; the bloc he supports has 46% of the parliament and this is not a majority and even if he represents all the people who voted for that 46% that won't be enough because it's the parliament that represents the people and a fatwa cannot bring a solution for our problems.

I believe the solution lies in practicing democracy and productive discussion and if some parties decided to use force and take the battle to the streets they must expect to lose because those with this aggressive confrontational mentality do not represent a majority either and they will not find many to follow them.
The Sunni parties had tried the hard way and they used force against others and the result was a disaster for those parties and their leaders admit they were wrong and now they realize how much that method cost them. Now I hope the others and especially the Shia parties can learn from this and be smart and avoid falling in the same mistake.

With slow steps and with having to deal with many risks and challenges there are many Iraqis who are trying to build a state of law and institutions. They need time and they need support.

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