Breaking News Jaafari Presents Cabinet

Breaking News: Jaafari presents Cabinet to Talabani

The Scotsman reports that prospective Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari has presented his cabinet to President Jalal Talabani. Jaafari, a religious Shiite from the Dawa Party, gave 17 cabinet posts to Shiites, including the sensitive one of Interior (which includes domestic intelligence). Sunni Arabs will get the Ministry of Defense and a vice-premiership, as well as at least 3 other cabinet posts. Ex-Baathists among the Sunni Arabs have been excluded.

The president and his two vice presidents (these are Kurdish leader Jalal Talabani, Sunni Arab Ghazi al-Yawir, and Shiite member of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, Adil Abdul Mahdi) will now approve the cabinet. If they give the go-ahead, Jaafari will submit it for a vote in parliament. He needs a 2/3s majority or about 182 votes in the 275-member parliament. The Shiite list has about 145 and the Kurds have 77, so they alone can approve the government if they like. (update: A reader just alleged to me that the new government requires only a simple majority in parliament. If so, and if the presidency council does not balk, Jaafari is assured of getting his government through.)

The al-Jazeerah crawl says that the three Sunni Arab members of the Shiite coalition, the United Iraqi Alliance, have resigned from the list. I presume that they were not given any high posts and are angry. The other Sunnis in parliament had declined to consider them legitimate representatives of the Sunni Arab community.

The NYT is now saying that Condi Rice called Massoud Barzani Sunday, not Jalal Talabani. Since the NYT had reported on Saturday that Barzani was trying to prevent Ibrahim Jaafari from becoming prime minister and attempting to install Iyad Allawi, Rice’s call now makes some sense. She was ordering Barzani to knock it off. She knows that if Jaafari were shunted aside, the Shiites would come out into the streets in their hundreds of thousands. This lesson will have been impressed on her by Adil Abdul Mahdi, the new Shiite vice president of Iraq, who has been in Washington lately.

Cast of players:

Massoud Barzani: Leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party, mainly based in Irbil in the far north. During the Kurdish mini-civil war of 1996, Barzani allied with Saddam Hussein and helped bring Baathist tanks north. Barzani was fighting Jalal Talabani’s Patriotic Union of Kurdistan. The two have now made up, more or less.

Iyad Allawi: ex-Baathist and CIA asset who long attempted to organize former Baathists and Iraqi officers to overthrow Saddam. A secularist, he was installed as interim prime minister on June 28, 2004, by the US and the UN. His list only got 14% of the seats in parliament. Barzani and elements in the US government, including presumably the CIA, had been trying to install Allawi as continuing prime minister even though he had badly lost the Jan. 30, 2005 election. Allawi continues to champion ex-Baathists (especially in the new intelligence apparatus) and to warn of the dangers of Iran and of the pro-Iranian Shiite religious parties (who did win the election).

Ibrahim Jaafari is a physician and long-time member of the Dawa Party, a utopian Shiite religious revolutionary party with positive ties to Iran and to Lebanon’s AMAL and Hizbullah Shiite parties. He is the new prime minister of Iraq, which is apparently driving Barzani and Allawi crazy.

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