Friday, April 08, 2005

Blog closing down

A word from your editor:

This will be the last post on this blog. It was been a fantastic experience for me. I'm afraid that other projects are largely demanding my attention, and Iraqi politics seems to be coming along quite well.

Thanks to all my readers for their support.

Christian Science Monitor: Thorny issues loom for Iraq leaders. Breaking the deadlock over forming Iraq's interim government came down, in the end, to a simple compromise: Kurds dropped their immediate demand that the oil-rich city of Kirkuk be added to their autonomous section of Iraq, and Shiite Arabs said they wouldn't insist on dismantling the Kurds' peshmerga militia. The country's two main political powers have essentially deferred these and other difficult issues until a time when Iraq's politics may be calmer and the two sides may be closer. It's a position that many observers expected to have been reached within weeks of the election. But this was a compromise between radically different factions in a country where threats and the gun have long stood in for dialogue.

The Daily Times [Pakistan] editorial: Iraq has done well. The impasse that had gripped the Iraqi parliament on the issue of the presidency has been resolved. The new Iraqi president, Jalal Talabani, is a Kurd, the first to become modern Iraq’s leader. Also, the first non-Arab leader of an Arab state. The two vice-presidents represent the other two sectarian factions in the country. Adel Abdul Mahdi, finance minister in the outgoing interim government, is Shia while Ghazi Yawar, a former president, is a Sunni tribal leader. As the parliament’s new speaker-elect, Hajem Al Hassani said after the vote: “This is the new Iraq — an Iraq that elects a Kurd to be president and an Arab former president as his deputy. What more could the world want from us?”[...]

Iraq is a step closer to its first democratically elected government in more than 50 years, after Ibrahim Jaafari was named as the country's prime minister. Mr Jaafari is a softly spoken doctor who fled into exile under Saddam Hussein and who leads Iraq's oldest Islamic party. He acknowledged that ruling Iraq would be a huge responsibility.

AP update:


Saddam's Old Foes Become New Iraqi Leaders. Cementing Iraq's first democratic government in 50 years, one of Saddam Hussein's most implacable enemies took his oath as president Thursday and quickly named another longtime foe of the ousted dictator to the powerful post of prime minister. The new government's main task will be to draft a permanent constitution and lay the groundwork for elections in December, although some worry that the two months of political wrangling taken up in forming the leadership hasn't left enough time. The swearing-in ceremony came just two days short of the second anniversary of Baghdad's fall to U.S.-led forces and underlined the growing power and cooperation of the Shiite Arab majority and Kurdish minority - groups that were long oppressed by Saddam's regime. There were stumbles, though. [...]

New Iraqi PM Long Opposed Saddam's Reign. Ibrahim al-Jaafari spent more than two decades as an exile trying to topple Saddam Hussein's government - with the close support of Iran and an Islamic militant group linked to terrorism. Now, as Iraq's new interim prime minister, he has asserted he is a moderate, even as some have questioned his ties to Iran and his work for Iraq's first Shiite Islamic political party - the Islamic Dawa Party - of which he is spokesman. Although al-Jaafari served in Dawa leadership positions, he has distanced himself from the group's attacks. But his history with the group - he first joined in 1968 - still raises eyebrows.

BBC News: Talabani election pleases press. Jalal Talabani's election as Iraq's new president inspires cautious optimism in the comment pages of Thursday's papers in Baghdad and elsewhere in the region. Many see the choice of Mr Talabani as an opportunity for Iraqis to cast long-standing ethnic differences aside. Turkish papers are also generally buoyed by the news, predicting that he could dampen Kurdish hopes of their own independent state.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Iraq's new parliament is due to select its three-man presidency council, which will in turn appoint a prime minister. Senior government sources said on Tuesday Kurdish leader Jalal Talabani would be nominated as president. Outgoing President Ghazi Yawer, a Sunni Arab, would be one vice-president and current Finance Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi, a Shia, the other, sources said. [...] (BBC News)

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Iraq's divided interim parliament has finally elected a speaker, clearing a major political hurdle on the way to forming a government. Casting secret ballots, the members chose Hajim al-Hassani, a Sunni Arab, as the speaker and picked a Shia Muslim and a Kurd as his deputies. More than two months have passed since Iraqis elected the national assembly. A session of the chamber fell apart on Tuesday as members argued over a suitable Sunni candidate. [...] (BBC News)