Iraq's Prime Minister Seeks Support For New Government

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With Iraq embroiled in a protracted political crisis, Ouday Hatem reports on the efforts of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to form a majority government. While several lawmakers are against Maliki’s proposal, tentative steps are being taken toward a new administration.

The Eid al-Adha holiday did not contribute to unblocking the political crisis that Iraq has been going through since the end of last year. This has pushed the State of Law Coalition — headed by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki — to proceed with its attempts to achieve a majority and form a government.

The holiday ended, but Maliki, Kurdistan Regional Government President Massoud Barzani and head of the Iraqiya List Ayad Allawi did not exchange holiday greetings. This reflects the deep-rooted differences over the crisis, as well as the difficultly of the mission that Iraqi President Jalal Talabani undertook to prepare for a conference that includes all political forces.

Political sources told Al-Hayat that Maliki’s coalition had reached a preliminary agreement with a number of blocs — some of which are included in the Iraqiya List — to form a majority government.

The sources revealed that “among these blocs is the Unity Alliance of Iraq, led by Sheikh Ahmed Abu Risha, and some members of parliament from the Kirkuk, Mosul, Anbar and Saladin provinces.”

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The sources explained that “the blocs within the National Alliance — except for the Al-Ahrar bloc, which represents the Sadrist Movement in parliament — are supporting this political step.”

The sources confirmed that “the prime minister seeks to divide the Iraqiya List and the Sunnis by including tribal leaders and former Baathists, and by re-enrolling all former army officers.”

The sources noted that “he briefed the Kurdish delegation that visited Baghdad before the Eid al-Adha holiday about the results, asked them to join the government and suggested including the Kurdish opposition.” The sources added that “the delegation requested to be given time to respond to the offer, after referring the issue to the leadership represented by Talabani and Barzani.”

The sources said that “Maliki expressed his willingness to resolve the problems between the Kurdistan Region and Iraq, provided that the Kurds join the government.”

As for the separation of the Kurdistan Region from Iraq, in case a majority government is formed, the sources ruled out the possibility of Barzani taking this step “for two reasons: first, the regional and international situation, particularly the United States’ position opposing this separation. And secondly, because the rest of the Kurdish parties and blocs do not support such a step at present.”

The sources pointed out that such a step would serve “Maliki’s interests in the upcoming elections.”

It is to be noted that the former minister of higher education, Abd Diab al-Ujaili, a member of the Iraqiya List, said in a statement yesterday [Oct. 29] that “the majority government represents competitive democracy, which is the finest form of democracy that is based on the concept of majority and minority.”

Ali al-Sajri, secretary-general of the People's Movement within the Iraqiya List, criticized the current government of national partnership, adding that “it is a partnership of gains and benefits,” and expressed his support to “the formation of a political majority government.”

Moreover, the Iraqiya List warned that “the political process will collapse if a majority government is formed.”

Member of Parliament Nabil Harbo said, “The political situation is aggravated, differences among the blocs are significant and there is a political competition for power, in light of the non-enforcement of agreements between the blocs and the situation in the region. All this sparks concern if the crisis continues.”

He added: "Time is running out fast, and it is necessary that the Erbil agreement be enforced in order to resolve the problems.” He said that “the delay in holding the national conference to solve the problems and foiling President Talabani will lead to the collapse of the political process.”

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