Monday, May 07, 2012

May 17th to implement the Erbil Agreement or . . .

The political crisis continues in Iraq.  Kitabat reports that Moqtada al-Sadr's boc announced yesterday that it has six people in mind to replace Nouri al_maliki as prime minister if he's unable to take the necessary steps to resolve the crisis.  Al Mada reports that the threat to withdraw confidence in Nouri is coming from Moqtada al-Sadr, Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi, KRG President Massoud Barzani and Iraqiya leader Ayad Allawi.  Nouri is stewing in a mess of his own making.  Marina Ottaway and Danial Kaysi's [PDF format warning] "The State Of Iraq"  (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace) reviewed events and noted:

Within days of the official ceremonies marking the end of the U.S. mission in Iraq, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki moved to indict Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi on terrorism charges and sought to remove Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq from his position, triggering a major political crisis that fully revealed Iraq as an unstable, undemocractic country governed by raw competition for power and barely affected by institutional arrangements.  Large-scale violence immediately flared up again, with a series of terrorist attacks against mostly Shi'i targets reminiscent of the worst days of 2006.
But there is more to the crisis than an escalation of violence.  The tenuous political agreement among parties and factions reached at the end of 2010 has collapsed.  The government of national unity has stopped functioning, and provinces that want to become regions with autonomous power comparable to Kurdistan's are putting increasing pressure on the central government.  Unless a new political agreement is reached soon, Iraq may plunge into civil war or split apart.

The agreement was the Erbil Agreement.  March 7, 2010, Iraq held parliamentary elections.  Ayad Allawi's Iraqiya came in first ahead of Nouri's State of Law.  Nouri refused to give up the post of prime minister.  What followed were eight months of political stalemate.  The White House and the Iranian government were backing Nouri so he knew he could dig in his heels and did just that.  Finally, in November, the US-brokered Erbil Agreement was reached.  Nouri could have a second term as prime minister provided he made concessions on other issues.

Nouri used the agreement to get his second term and then trashed the agreement refusing to honor it.  Until last week, he and his supporters had taken to (wrongly) calling the agreement unconstitutional.  And though the KRG, Iraqiya and Moqtada al-Sadr have been calling for the Erbil Agreement to be fully implemented since summer 2011, it took last week for State of Law to finally discover that themselves loved the Erbil Agreement.  Needless to say, the sudden attraction to the deal is seen as mere lip service.

State of Law meanwhile sees the distraction as the way to go.  Alsumaria reports MP Yassin Majid is stating, 'Dictator, who's the dictator?' as he makes a point to assert that since Massoud Barzani has ruled the Kurdistan region for twenty years, he's the dictator, not Nouri.  Majid accompanied Nouri to DC in December and, along with being a member of State of Law, Majid is also the attorney of record for State of Law.  Those details didn't make the story.  But another thing that didn't make the story is that Massoud Barzani hasn't ruled the KRG for 20 years. The position of prime minister was created in 2003 -- Barzani has been prime minister since 2003.  Secondly, prior to 2003, the Kurdistan region was divided into two areas with the KDP (Barzani's party) in charge of one section (Barzani in charge) and with the PUK (Iraqi president Jalal Talabani's party) in charge of the other region. 

Alsumaria reports that Moqtada al-Sadr's bloc is stating the Nouri has until May 17th to implement the Erbil Agreement.  And Al Sabaah notes that State of Law is stating that Nouri and Talabani will be holding a meeting to address political developments.

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