Citizenship Requested for Sistani
Al-Zaman The provincial council of Najaf, now dominated by the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, requested that the first act of the Iraqi parliament once it is seated on March 16 be to grant Iraqi citizenship to Grand Ayatollah Alis Sistani. Sistani’s family immigrated to Iraq from Iran and settled in Najaf about a century ago, the paper claims, but could never acquire citizenship. The vice-chairman of the Najaf body, Shaikh Khalid al-Nu`mani, requested that the parliament also give citizenship to Bashir Najafi (a Pakistani) and Ishaq Fayyad (an Afghan).
Thousands demonstrated in Najaf on Monday, and hundreds in Baghdad, against the celebratory funeral held in Jordan for the suicide bomber responsible for the Hilla atrocity about a week ago. The crowd in Baghdad invaded the Jordan embassy
Al-Zaman cites Kurdish sources as saying that the key obstacle to a Kurdish/Shiite coalition government is the issue of Kirkuk, and says that a mood of pessimism has settled over the Kurdish negotiators. The Kurds want an up-front admission that Kirkuk belongs to Kurdistan, which the United Iraqi Alliance is unwilling to give.
Jalal Talabani is said to have indicated that the Kurdish paramilitary, the Peshmerga, is also an obstacle to agreement. The Kurds want to incorporate it into the Iraqi army but to have it be the only troops on Kurdistan soil.
The Kurds and Shiites have agreed to open parliament on March 16 even if they have not reached an agreement by then.
The Sunni Arabs who ran for parliament, including Ghazi al-Yawir, have formed a committee to push for Sunni Arab representation in the new cabinet and on the constituent assembly that drafts the new constitution.
Iyad Allawi indicated that he would not serve in the new government, but was preparing to form a bloc of oppositional MPs in the new parliament.