Friday, March 25, 2005

Shiite and Kurdish figures warned Thursday that talks on forming Iraq's next government could drag on another week, while Iraqi forces battled insurgents in their former stronghold of Fallujah. Hopes of clinching a government nearly two months after Iraq's epic election were dented as the election-winning Shiite political list pushed to reconvene the 275-member Parliament Saturday without consensus on a Cabinet. "Even if the Parliament convenes Saturday or Sunday, it may take another week to have a government," said Haidar al-Mussawi, a spokesman for Ahmed Chalabi, a leading member of the Shiite list, the United Iraqi Alliance (UIA). A Kurdish source said the delay stemmed in part from efforts to convince outgoing Prime Minister Iyad Allawi's list to join the government. (The Daily Star [Lebanon])

Ross Mackenzie: In Iraq, extraordinarily, the biggest change since Babylon. Perhaps four words - resolve, courage, sacrifice and extraordinary - best define the outcome of the elections in Iraq. The resolve of President Bush and the people of the United States, the courage and sacrifice of primarily the American military and the Iraqi people (as well as the post-Saddam Iraqi leadership), and the extraordinary electoral results. In the run-up to the election, many among the doubters and naysayers practically cheered for failure. They were all negativism, cynicism and gloom. Remember? From all the predictable sectors - the Old Media (which somewhere along the way redefined the terrorists as "insurgents"), Old Europe, even non-Iraqis Osama and Zarqawi) the unrelenting cries went up: [...] (

Scott Ritter: Hijacking Democracy in Iraq. The post-election ‘cooking’ of the results in Iraq all but guarantees that the Shi’a of Iraq will rally together to secure that which they believe is rightfully theirs. This journey of ‘historical self-realization’ may very well ignite the kind of violent backlash among the Shi’a majority in Iraq that the U.S. has avoided to date. It could also complicate whatever strategies the Bush administration may be trying to implement regarding Iraq’s neighbor to the east, Iran. But in any case, the American ‘cooking’ of the Iraqi election is, in the end, a defeat for democracy and the potential of democracy to effect real and meaningful change in the Middle East. The sad fact is that it is not so much that the people of the Middle East are incapable of democracy, but rather the United States is incapable of allowing genuine democracy to exist in the Middle East. (Guerrilla News Network)

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])