Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Soft-spoken Jaafari tipped as Iraq PM Iraqi Vice President Ibrahim al-Jaafari, favoured to become prime minister, prefers diplomacy and dialogue to navigate around sectarian minefields the emerged after the January 30 elections. The main Shi'ite alliance, winner of the election, favours Dawa Party leader Jaafari for prime minister, a senior Shi'ite political source said on Tuesday. (Reuters)

Jalal Talabani, the Iraqi Kurdish leader positioned to become the country's next president, crowned a lifelong struggle for Kurdish rights with huge success in the country's historic Jan. 30 election. Polling 25 percent of the national vote, his Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and its election partner, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), are Iraq's new power brokers and Talabani is confident his wish to be president will be granted. (Reuters)

Now the real game begins. Iraqi voters have given a Shia coalition a clear majority vote, but by splitting their votes among various Shia parties, Iraqis have made it necessary for a long, difficult process of bargaining to begin, not only to form a government but to write a new constitution. In the long run, this could be a positive development for Iraq. It prevents any one group, especially the Islamic fundamentalists, from being able to dictate a result and means there must be a process of give and take, of genuine compromise, to create a new nation. In Iraq, a nation in which a minority - the Sunnis - had ruled for centuries, the danger of tyranny by the majority loomed as a potential problem. Now a coalition government will make that less likely. (Newsday)

IRAQ ELECTION WINNERS: NOW, THE HORSE-TRADING The results of Iraq's first free elections are in. They're better than any realist could have expected. And, predictably, the media are grasping at every possible negative. Let's look at things honestly. [...] (New York Post)

Once seen as a possible postwar leader of Iraq, controversial politician and former banker Ahmad Chalabi is a long shot for prime minister but dealmaking could land him a senior post. He has fallen out with his U.S. backers, but the secular Chalabi has cultivated alliances with Shi'ite parties who won the Jan. 30 elections. (Sign On San Diego)

The contest to be Iraq's next prime minister narrowed Tuesday after the French-educated finance minister removed himself from consideration in the ranks of the Shiite alliance, making it a two-man race, party spokesmen said. The United Iraqi Alliance, which has provisionally won more than half the seats in the new National Assembly, has been left with two main contenders, interim Vice President Ibrahim al-Jaafari and Ahmad Chalabi, the former Pentagon favorite. (AP)

Arab street watching closely following Iraqi elections. Will U.S., Europe stand by democracy everywhere? (Houston Chronicle)