Still no Government
Allawi Slams Sistani
Negotiations between the religious Shiite coalition, the United Iraqi Alliance, which has 54 percent of seats in the parliament, have bogged down with the Kurdish Alliance, which has 27 percent, according to the Scotsman. The UIA needs 66% to form a government. In theory, the UIA could call parliament to be seated even without forming a government, since calling a meeting would require only a simple majority.
In contrast, AFP reports relative optimism that the issues between the Kurds and the Shiites can be resolved. It admits, though, that “Jaafari’s number two official, Jawad Maliky, warned Wednesday the parliament will be convened next week, with or without agreement on a national government line up.”
Az-Zaman: Iyad Allawi said on Wednesday that the interference of the Shiite religious authorities [he means Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani] in politics is a matter that “is injurious to it and to the religion itself.” He said “The interference of the religious autority in the game of politics is injurious to it and even to religion itself. It is not right to resort to this path or to depend upon it, for Islam is too exalted to push into this sort of game, and the religious authority has a position such that we wish to keep it safeguarded and removed from political maneuverings.” He warned, “This game will end by pushing the religious authority into a narrow corner. It will transform it into part of one bloc, and then into just one faction within it, and finally will isolate it for the purposes of just a handful of persons. We desire for it a wider station. Its arena is the entire nation, with all its people and capacities.” Allawi complained about Sistani having given Jaafari his blessing as candidate for prime minister, but said he would not hold it against the grand ayatollah, whom, he said, he respected and appreciated.
Allawi also expressed amazement at the vindictiveness some were showing toward former Baathists, which he said had reached the point of being a sort of hysteria. He said it was as though the intent was to spread a devotion to continual revenge and bloodletting.” He said he was against turning enmity toward the Baathists into a permanent complex.
Allawi obviously sees that he has been completely outflanked by Sistani. He is trying to fight back, but no one in Iraq cares what he thinks the grand ayatollah’s limits should be. A good 80 percent of Shiites would just automatically side with Sistani against Allawi in this regard.
Ayham al-Samarra’i, a secular Sunni from the party of Adnan Pachachi (which won no seats) admitted that “Everything [with regard to the formation of a government] must be announced within two or three weeks, or else there will be a problem.”
Allawi’s political office announced that all members of parliament will receive $2000 a month to cover their living expenses.
In a recent interview, prospective prime minister Ibrahim Jaafari shows that he is aware of the need to handle issues such as the northern oil city of Kirkuk (claimed by several groups including the Kurds) with great care. But in this interview he manages to avoid saying very much else of substance. He says that the Koran won’t be Iraq’s only constitution (as in Saudi Arabia), but then no country, including Iran, is really run only according to the Koran. There isn’t much law in the Koran, most of which reads to Western eyes rather like the Psalms. He also says that women will be allowed to have high government posts, but he needs to spell out if there will be coeducation in universities and professional schools, and if female physicians will be able to treat males. Gender segregation has the insidious effect of limiting women’s opportunities even when they are otherwise qualified.