Jaafari Takes lead
Reuters is reporting that Ibrahim Jaafari is emerging as the frontrunner in the negotiations for prime minister.
Jaafari opposed the US military assault on Fallujah, telling UPI:
‘ I believe that it is necessary to deal politically with what is happening in Fallujah because it is the best solution to end military confrontation and avoid its dangerous consequences. If we fail in the first attempt, we should try a second and a third time until we achieve the aspired results based on our keenness to establish a new Iraq free of violence and which confronts violence with political solutions. ‘
Jaafari also slammed the interim Defense Minister, Hazem Shaalan, for trying to roil relations between Iraq and Iran by calling Iran Baghdad’s number one enemy. Jaafari said,
‘ I personally look at Iran as part of the geographical entourage of Iraq and a friendly state which stood by Iraq’s side in time of crisis: It harbored Iraqis when Saddam Hussein killed, displaced and harmed many of them. It is a state like all Iraq’s other neighbors, which has common interests with us. I look forward to seeing Iraq’s relations with Iran and all its other neighboring countries rise to the level of advanced countries. But in return, I expect all neighboring countries to refrain from interfering in our sovereignty like we do not interfere in theirs.
Some are trying to disturb such relations with Iran, although there is a consensus within the Iraqi interim government on the need to improve ties with Iran and all other neighboring countries and to set up a common strategy with them. In case of any interference, we should address that neighbor openly and start a dialogue instead of resorting to a media war. ‘
My suspicion is that Jaafari is not the free-marketeer that his rival, Adil Abdul Mahdi is. The Dawa has a tradition of thinking about “Islamic economics” that assume a certain amount of state interference in the economy.
Jaafari, given his policies, is probably closer to public opinion in Iraq than Abdul Mahdi, and in that sense, may have more chance of success. Some have complained, however, that he hasn’t so far been a very decisive politician.