Sunni Shiite Rioting At Baghdad

Sunni-Shiite Rioting at Baghdad University
Sunni, Kurdish Recriminations on Cabinet

A riot broke out at Baghdad University on Tuesday and continued Wednesday, pitting furious Shiite students against Sunni Arab students and professors, over the killing of a Shiite student.

Al-Zaman reports that the Kurdistan Alliance in the Iraqi parliament is furious that a phrase was dropped from the oath of office sworn by the new cabinet on Tuesday. They were supposed to commit to a “democratic, federal” government, but the two words were not in the actual oath. Communications Minister Javan Fuad Masum (a Kurd) demanded to know who was responsible for the omission. He said that dropping the two words was unconstitutional.

The actual oath read, “I swear by God, the Exalted, the Mighty, that I shall fulfill my duties and responsibilities with humility and sincerity; shall safeguard the independence and sovereignty of Iraq, and attend to the welfare of its people and the purity of its land, air, water and natural wealth; and shall implement the law faithfully and impartially. God bears witness to what I say.”

Kurds are suspicious of the devotees of Shiite political Islam who hold the majority in parliament. Their insistence on an acknowledgment of the “democratic” and “federal” character of Iraq reflects their anxiety about whether the United Iraqi Alliance is really committed to either principle.

Al-Zaman/ AFP: Meanwhile, a Sunni Arab source reacted to the failure again Wednesday to appoint a Sunni Arab minister of defense. He said the new Prime Minister, Ibrahim Jaafari, has been inflexible and high-handed. He said that the Sunni Arabs presented lists of potential candidates for cabinet ministers to him, and that he rejected them out of hand. Jaafari denied rejecting the candidates upon which Sunnis agreed, blaming the Sunni Arabs for not being able to agree among themselves.

Trudy Rubin’s first-hand impressions of the tensions between Sunni Arab and Shiite political elites in Iraq give few grounds for optimism about sectarian relations.

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