Iraq: Kirkuk Tribes Warn Against Electing Alternative to Talabani

Tribal leaders in Iraq’s Kirkuk province have warned against electing an alternative to President Jalal Talabani, who is ill, claiming it would send the country spiraling into an “endless crisis.”

al-monitor Workers clean up a restaurant after a bomb attack in the AL-Mashtal district in Baghdad, May 16, 2013. Photo by REUTERS/Thaier al-Sudani.

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al-qaeda, withdrawl, kirkuk, assassination

May 16, 2013

Political parties and Arab tribes in Iraq’s Kirkuk province have warned that they would send the country spiraling back toward an "endless" crisis, should the elections to choose a replacement for President Jalal Talabani take place. They also rejected resettling members affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) — who withdrew from Turkey — in the province.

Sheikh Abdul Rahman Monshed al-Assi, a leader in the Arab Political Council, has called upon all related parties "not to lead the country and political forces toward a new conflict through the election of an alternative to Talabani.” He stressed the need to "refer to the constitution and not to exceed its content." The sheikh also demanded that "the nomination be done away from quotas and repartition of positions on a nationalist and sectarian basis, as this would harm the political process and cause crises."

Meanwhile, Arab tribal leaders have criticized "[the parties] for being ungrateful towards Talabani, who has been unbiased and patriotic. Throughout his presidency, Talabani has not dealt with issues on a sectarian basis."

In a statement to Al-Hayat, Sheikh Farhan al-Saadi said, "It is too soon for political blocs to talk about an alternative to President Talabani, as he is still in a difficult health condition."

Muqtada al-Sadr, on the other hand, has declared his support for the nomination of a replacement for Talabani and has called to speed up the measures in this regard. The United Nations Office in Iraq’s Kurdistan region has mentioned several reasons that would hinder the nomination of any alternative. In a statement issued by the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), Sokol Conde, head of the UN Office, said that the "no party alone can take the place of president Talabani. Governance in Iraq was built on the basis of consensus and partnership between political blocs and components, which imposes the attainment of national consensus on various issues."

Moreover, clerics in  Diyala province criticized that "no appropriate security measures have been taken to protect moderate preachers and imams of mosques, as a sheikh has been killed and four others injured within the past two years by members affiliated with al-Qaeda."

"The security apparatus has turned a blind eye to the assassinations of Sunni scholars and clerics, due to their stance against infidels and the provocation of ideological differences," said Sheikh Abdul Karim al-Sammarai in this regard.

He added that "tribes have decided to protect some preachers in areas and towns in Diyala, as security leaderships continue to turn a blind eye to the perils those preachers have been subjected to. Many of them have been assassinated and had their property confiscated as a result of fatwas declared by armed groups."

Incidentally, unidentified gunmen attacked Abdul Rahman Mohammed al-Samarrai, the preacher of al-Khidr mosque, located north of Baqubah, on Tuesday [May 14]. They used weapons with silencers.

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