Thursday, March 02, 2006

BBC News: Iraq government talks in disarray. Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari has cancelled a meeting with senior political leaders, apparently to protest against a campaign to oust him. [...continues, but not much more detail...]

Monday, February 27, 2006

Christian Science Monitor: After a weekend of sleepless nights, emergency meetings, and an unprecedented three-day curfew, Iraq has managed to stave off its worst fear after last week's destruction of a major Shiite shrine: That the country's small-scale civil conflict was about to bloom into a bloody and wide-ranging war between its sects. But disturbing signs are emerging that Iraq's sectarian powder-keg is still highly volatile. A pattern of politics drawn along sectarian or ethnic lines has strengthened in the wake of Saddam Hussein's rule. Leading moderate voices like Shiite Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani have taken harder lines, and the growing authority of unelected clerics in determining Iraq's future is presenting new hurdles to the unity government most experts believe is needed to bring stability. On Saturday night, representatives of militant Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr and Sunni clerics from the powerful Muslim Scholars Association prayed together in a televised ceremony from Baghdad's Abu Hanifa mosque, a Sunni landmark. The clerics condemned recent attacks on Shiite and Sunni houses of worship and jointly forbade any actions leading to fitnah, or strife among Muslims. Political leaders from all factions, who received a series of personal calls from President Bush on Saturday, echoed those sentiments in a separate meeting. "Last night [at] the meeting between the different political parties, we agreed on some important points that might cool things down, like promises not to attack mosques,'' says Saleh al-Mutlak, a leader of the main Sunni front in parliament. "The general environment was not that bad, they are listening now, [the] Shiites know the civil war will hurt everybody including themselves." [...continues...]

Sunday, February 26, 2006 Iraqi political leaders have agreed to push ahead with US-sponsored efforts to form a government and condemned sectarian violence in an attempt to ease the gravest crisis in postwar Iraq. Ibrahim al-Jaafari, the Shia prime minister, flanked by Kurdish and Arab Sunni leaders, called on Iraqis on Saturday to unite and fight terrorism in a news conference carried live to the nation on state television. With the gravest crisis since the US invasion threatening his plan to withdraw 136,000 troops, George Bush, the US president, made calls to Iraqi leaders on all sides urging them to work together to break a round of attacks sparked by the suspected al-Qaida bombing of a Shia shrine on Wednesday. Those top leaders then met for talks directed at getting plans for a national unity government back on track. Film of the meeting, attended by the US envoy, was broadcast live on state television in a clear effort to defuse sectarian tensions. The White House announced after Bush's calls to Baghdad that: "He [Bush] encouraged them to continue to work together to thwart the efforts of the perpetrators of the violence to sow discord."