Saturday, June 12, 2010

Allawi and al-Maliki face-to-face

Muhanad Mohammed (Reuters) reports that the Council of Ministers' office was the location today of a meeting between Ayad Allawi and Nouri al-Maliki whose political slates came in first and second respectively in the March elections. No major issues are thought to have been resolved in the meeting. Meanwhile Nadeem Hamid (Los Angeles Times) reports:

The formation of the next government was the topic of conversation in Shiite and Sunni mosques across Iraq this weekend. With parliament to be seated on Monday, clerics demanded a better performance from their politicians, whose records have been checkered at best. The clergy alluded to the damage caused by the country’s bloodshed over the last four years and the public sector’s endemic corruption Until now, intense political competition makes the seating of the next government look unlikely before September. Even the formal merger of two competing Shiite-led coalitions late Thursday appears to have done little to break the deadlock.
Faced with the country’s political uncertainty, clerics spoke out and voiced the public’s frustrations and fears.
They made clear their impatience with the turgid negotiations since March elections and emphasized they wanted real results from the next government and not business as usual.

March 7th, Iraq concluded Parliamentary elections. Three months and two days later, still no government. 163 seats are needed to form the executive government (prime minister and council of ministers). When no single slate wins 163 seats (or possibly higher -- 163 is the number today but the Parliament added seats this election and, in four more years, they may add more which could increase the number of seats needed to form the executive government), power-sharing coalitions must be formed with other slates, parties and/or individual candidates. (Eight Parliament seats were awarded, for example, to minority candidates who represent various religious minorities in Iraq.) Ayad Allawi is the head of Iraqiya which won 91 seats in the Parliament making it the biggest seat holder. Second place went to State Of Law which Nouri al-Maliki, the current prime minister, heads. They won 89 seats. Nouri made a big show of lodging complaints and issuing allegations to distract and delay the certification of the initial results while he formed a power-sharing coalition with third place winner Iraqi National Alliance. Together, the two still lack four seats necessary (or so it is thought) to form the government.

In the US, the Gulf Disaster continues. Iraq has its own water disaster, the Shatt al Arab, and Steven Lee Myers (New York Times) reports:

Withered by decades of dictatorial mismanagement and then neglect, by drought and the thirst of Iraq’s neighbors, the river formed by the convergence of the Tigris and the Euphrates no longer has the strength the keep the sea at bay.
The salt water of the gulf now pushes up the Faw peninsula. Last year, for the first time in memory, it extended beyond Basra, Iraq’s biggest port city, and even Qurna, where the two rivers meet. It has ravaged fresh-water fisheries, livestock, crops and groves of date palms that once made the area famous, forcing the migration of tens of thousands of farmers.

Reuters notes
1 woman shot dead in her Mosul home, a Mosul grenade attack which injured two body guards for the Kurdistan Democratic Party and 1 man shot dead in Shirqat.

And we'll close with this from Dogu Ergil (Sunday's Zaman):

Mr. Massoud Barzani, the president of the Kurdish Regional Government of Iraq (KRG), has visited Turkey after a few years of tension between the Iraqi Kurdish leadership and the Turkish military-political establishment. Harsh words and accusations were voiced born out of distrust. The Turkish government believed the KRG was supporting the notorious armed Kurdish militia called the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) that organized bloody forays into Turkey from their sanctuaries in northern Iraq. In return the Iraqi Kurdish leadership believed the Turkish rulers were intent on wiping out the KRG, which they saw as a bad example for Turkey’s Kurds to emulate.
Nowadays most of these ill feelings and prejudices have been left behind. Iraqi Kurds know that after the US withdrawal, leaving behind vast devastation, they will be held responsible by the old ruling group, namely the Sunni Arabs. So they will not be their best ally. Shiite Arabs are too numerous and they lean heavily on Iran. So in the case of a breakdown of present-day Iraq, the best ally and protector Iraqi Kurds can find will be Turkey. This is also the will of the late Mullah Mustafa Barzani, the legendary leader of the Iraqi Kurds. He had no confidence in either the Iranians or the Arabs. The reason is obvious given the historical evidence.

Agree or disagree with what he's saying (I favor the latter) but ponder what he's saying.

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