Saturday, March 19, 2005

Iraq's Shiite and Kurdish powerbrokers woo Allawi. Shiite and Kurdish leaders said that Iraq's next government could be formed within a week as they courted Sunnis and outgoing prime minister Iyad Allawi to join a coalition. (AFP via

Shiite and Kurdish officials reported progress Thursday in resolving disagreements over territorial issues and cabinet posts, but said they may need another week to put together Iraq's coalition government. Nearly two months after they braved death to vote, many Iraqis are growing frustrated over the slow pace of the talks. "These negotiations included many things, not just the Kurdish issues, but also regarding the shape of the Iraqi government," said interim Deputy Prime Minister Barham Saleh, a Kurd. (AP via

Mohammed A. R. Galadari: Iraq shows the way for region. The process has begun for the formation of a coalition government for Iraq, as per the agreement announced between the winning sides yesterday. See, dear readers, how things are progressing and how proper were the elections there. The prime minister and the president of the caretaker government that oversaw the election process-Iraq’s first tryst with democracy in several decades-are not the ones who tasted victory. Both Iyad Allawi and Ghazi Al Yawar have less reason to be cheerful, as they are not the major winners. New alignments and new leaders are in the making to lead Iraq. This shows impatience will not work in a democratic set up. Those who showed patience and wholeheartedly participated in the election are getting an opportunity to share power and lead the people. Those who boycotted the elections have lost out; at least for now. It might be that, by good sense, the winning side would involve them too in the governance. That’s how a nation can stand united and reconstruction made easy. (Khaleej Times)

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Kurdish and Shiite politicians said Thursday they made headway in solving new disagreements in their deal to form a coalition government, nearly seven weeks after Iraqis took to the polls, but it remained unclear when that new government would be announced. The talks came after Iraqi legislators were sworn in Wednesday as members of the 275-seat National Assembly, vowing to uphold freedom and democracy two years after the fall of Saddam Hussein. Many of the new deputies wore traditional robes trimmed in gold, and mingled with austere Shiite clerics in black robes and turbans. Other men wore tan or gray suits, while nearly all the 85 women lawmakers wore headscarves. (AP)

Press gives Iraq parliament wary welcome. Papers in Iraq hail the inaugural session of the Iraqi parliament as a first step towards national unity, even though the failure to form a government made the gathering largely a formality. But one Baghdad paper voices its impatience with the horse-trading between the main Shia and Kurd parties over government posts. In the wider region there is cautious optimism for Iraq's future, although one Iranian commentator argues that the US will still be the dominant power. (BBC News)

Iraq's first freely elected National Assembly in more than a generation convened Wednesday, moments after a series of mortar rounds landed nearby, rattling windows and highlighting the long way the country has to go on the road to a stable, secure democracy. The meeting was largely ceremonial. After taking the oath of office, the 275 members of the assembly -- men wearing flowing robes, cleric's turbans and Western suits, while many women wore head scarves -- filed out of a borrowed auditorium without even deciding when to convene again. The assembly's most important task will be to write a constitution, but the members so far have been unable even to form a government to begin the job. The dominant Shi'ite Muslim coalition is still haggling with three Kurdish parties in the hopes of putting together the two-thirds majority necessary. (Detroit Free Press)

Iraq's house of new freedom, old tensions. IRAQ's new parliament opened to the boom of mortar fire and fiery debate from the floor over ethnic identity, then promptly closed again as the newly elected legislators returned to their endless backroom haggling over the make-up of the new government. The parties' failure to agree on a government meant there was little of the euphoria that marked the momentous elections of January 31. In fact, there was little for the 275 deputies to do but meet, declare the session open, listen to speeches from various dignitaries and take their oath of office. Yet even that simple schedule descended into farce after a squabble on the floor over whether the legislators should be made to swear the oath in Kurdish as well as Arabic – the last of several interjections on a nationalist theme from Kurdish deputies. (The Australian)

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Iraq's new parliament has concluded its first meeting since the January election without reaching an agreement on a government line-up or electing a three-member presidential council and a speaker. The parliament ended its session after 90 minutes on Wednesday, without giving a date for when it would reconvene as political parties are locked in hard negotiations over a coalition deal to form a government. The Shia Islamic alliance that won 140 seats and the Kurdish coalition that came second with 75 seats are deadlocked over a government in negotiations that have dragged on for weeks. But rival blocs say they expect to reach an agreement within the next few days. [...] (al Jazeera)

AP updates:

Iraq's first freely elected parliament in half a century began its opening session Wednesday after a series of explosions targeted the gathering.

A short Summary box, and a less abbreviated What's Next for Iraq's Government.

International Herald Tribune: An enthusiasm for remaking Iraq. When Iraq's new Parliament met Wednesday for the first time, novice legislators like Hamdiya Najaf were making a political debut amid uncertainty and acrimony that have muted the heady joy of their January election. More than six weeks after millions of Iraqis risked their lives to vote, there was still no new government; the parties with the most seats, representing Shiite Arabs and Sunni Kurds, were still haggling over key posts and policies. The interim prime minister, Iyad Allawi, the U.S.-backed steward of the appointed government that has ruled since last June, has been so thoroughly shut out of the talks that members of his Iraqi Alliance, the third-largest vote-getter, said they might refuse ministry posts and become an opposition party. [...]

BBC News: Iraq's new parliament is holding its inaugural session on Wednesday, with the main factions still unable to agree on a coalition government. Iraqi officials had hoped that a power-sharing deal would be struck before the parliament convened. However, more than six weeks after Iraq's first democratic elections, negotiations are still taking place. In the absence of a deal, the opening will be ceremonial. MPs will not chose a president and vice-president. Negotiators say they hope to reach agreement on a new government by the end of the month.

But hours earlier, CNN wrote this...

One day before the first meeting of Iraq's transitional National Assembly, representatives of major parties reached an agreement "in principle" on formation of a new government, officials said Tuesday. The agreement between Kurdish leaders and members of the United Iraqi Alliance includes the appointment of Jalal Talabani as president -- the first time a Kurd would hold such the post -- and of Ibrahim al-Jaafari as prime minister, according to Dawa party official Adnan Ali al-Kadhimi. Negotiations continued into Tuesday night, and most party representatives are expected to sign the document Wednesday as the assembly holds its historic meeting Wednesday at 11 a.m. (3 a.m. ET). (CNN)

Monday, March 14, 2005

Talks between the Shiite and Kurdish blocs that won the most votes in Iraq's elections stalled yesterday, dimming their hopes of agreeing on a new government before Wednesday's debut session of the newly elected national assembly. A scheduled meeting between the Shiite Muslim-dominated United Iraqi Alliance and a coalition of Kurdish parties was postponed when the Kurds delayed their reply to a proposed power-sharing deal. (L.A. Times via Seattle Times)