Chalabi Seeks Anti American Coalition

Chalabi seeks Anti-American Coalition
Kurds Demand Kirkuk

Az-Zaman: In a development that many observers considered a surprise, it was announced Friday that Ahmad Chalabi, Shiite secularist and head of the Iraqi National Congress, met a few days ago with members of the Association of Muslim Scholars, who had boycotted the political process. He discussed with them “The possibility of beginning the stage of dialogue among those who desire to fight the Occupation.” Chalabi said, “We had several meetings with the rebels, and there is a real desire to work and coordinate in order to end the foreign presence in Iraq, which will convince them that there is no necessity to fight.” (For more on the demands of the hard line Sunni Association of Muslim Scholars for a US withdrawal, see Gilbert Achcar’s comments below.)

Chalabi also continued to argue for uprooting of Baathists, and joined in calls by Shiite politicians for a purge of Baathists from the Ministry of the Interior. (Interim PM Iyad Allawi, an ex-Baathist, had appointed Falah al-Naqib, another ex-Baathist, as minister of the interior. Ministries are run on a spoils system, so al-Naqib is accused of bringing into the ministry, which is analogous to Homeland Security in the US, many former associates of Saddam.)

An official from the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (headed by Jalal Talabani) told the newspaper that the Kurds will accept nothing less than clear and public commitments with regard to their demands on the implementation of the interim constitiution concerning (loose) federalism, a referendum to determine the political identity of the city of Kirkuk, the melding of the Kurdish paramilitary, the Peshmergas, into the Iraqi army, sharing the Kirkuk petroleum proceeds [between province and center]. At the same time, the Kurds continue to refuse to see Iraq partitioned on a religious basis or an Iraq transformed into a theocracy. He added, “We refuse to postpone the Kirkuk issue until a later stage, and which point promises may be broken.” (United Iraqi Alliance prime ministerial candidate has urged that the disposition of Iraq be dealt with by future, more permanent elected governments after a constitution has been drafted.)