Wednesday, March 23, 2005

The United Shiite Alliance, victorious in the Iraqi elections held on January 30, and the representatives of the Kurdish parties have begun to share the main ministries. (Zaman Online [Turkey])

Iraq’s parliament will convene by Saturday to elect a speaker and try to reach agreement on a government to end a political crisis in the country, politicians said. The assembly’s first working session will be held at the weekend after the Shiite and Kurdish blocs, who between them have the two-thirds majority needed to form a government, sign a declaration on the status of the oil city of Kirkuk and the role of Islam, they said. (Reuters via MSNBC)

Political poker in Baghdad. “The talks are being carried out smoothly and in some positive climate”, said Kurdish negotiator Kamal Fuad, noting that the Kurds and the Shiite United Iraqi Alliance (UIA) were also meeting outgoing Prime Minister Iyad Allawi. But no politician wanted to predict when Iraq’s mosaic of Shiites, Kurds, Sunnites, Christians and Turkmens would unveil their government and the parliament would reconvene. The Shiite candidate for prime minister, Ibrahim Jaafari, told reporters it could take as long as two weeks A Shiite negotiator and senior member of Jaafari’s Dawa Party was optimistic that a deal could be struck by the end of the month. (Monday Morning)

The spiritual leader of Iraq’s Shiites urged political parties to speed up lagging talks to form a government, as US forces and rebels squared off in their biggest battle since the January 30 elections. Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, quoted by a top Shiite politician, said Monday the slowness of Shiites and Kurds in completing talks to form a government over one-and-a-half months after their triumphs in the vote was affecting Iraqis’ lives. (Khaleej Times [UAE])

Jordan announced its top diplomat would return to Iraq only days after the neighboring countries withdrew their highest envoys amid heightened tensions and the US military reported yesterday that a Marine was killed in action in a strife-riven western province. (AP via Taipei Times [Taiwan])