National Congress Planned Muqtada

National Congress Planned; Muqtada Invited

Chalabi mediates with Kurds

Al-Hayat: On Sunday, the preparatory board met to begin planning a national congress of 1000 notables, politicians, religious leaders and tribal sheikhs to be held in July. It will involve twenty members of the old Interim Governing Council, including Sheikh Abdul Karim al-Muhammadawi, against whom an arrest warrant has been issued in an alleged murder case. An invitation has also been issued to the Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr, who observers thought might well be elected to the advisory council. Interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi called on Muqtada to come to the congress.

Iyad Allawi had dispatched Ahmad Chalabi to mediate between him and the Kurdish leadership in the north. Despite Allawi’s attempt to dissolve the militias, the Peshmerga or Kurdish militias are refusing to be put under central Baghdad control. Chalabi met with Jalal Talabani. Al-Hayat reports a rumor that the Coalition Provisional Authority had an arrest warrant issued for Chalabi.

The American attempt to destroy Chalabi politically, and to destroy Muqtada al-Sadr physically, has so far failed miserably. Allawi is clearly eager to do business with both, and to pull them into his orbit. Both are now poised to gain seats in the proto-parliament, the national advisory council, and they have made an improbable and wholly cynical alliance with one another, according to an informed Iraqi observer. The two of them could well show up in the government to be formed in January, 2005.