Vote Set for January 30
The interim government of Iyad Allawi set the elections for Jan. 30, on Sunday. Even as the announcement was made, major violence broke out in Ramadi and Latifiyah, strong Sunni Arab areas, leaving some 22 persons dead on Sunday.
The next stage is the meeting of the neighboring states plus Egypt at Sharm al-Sheikh, where the Bush administration is finally seeking to internationalize the Iraq crisis instead of keeping it for Washington. The conference will be expanded on Tuesday. Iran says it will attend, but will insist on calling for a US withdrawal from Iraq. In contrast, Egypt is afraid that a sudden US withdrawal would leave Iraq in chaos.
Alissa Rubin of the Los Angeles Times has a good summary of issues around Grand Ayatollah Sistani’s formation of a Shiite super-party and his relations with the Sunnis. (This internet source misattributes the piece).