Sunnis Seek Negotiations with Shiite Parties
Saddam says Americans Lied
Saddam Hussein took advantage of being before the cameras again on Thursday to engage in some grandstanding. He reiterated charges that he had been beaten and tortured by the Americans, allegations that Washington had denied. He called the Bush administration congenital liars, pointing to their false claims that Iraq had had weapons of mass destruction or was linked to al-Qaeda terrorism. He said the denials that he had been mistreated were equally untrue. Saddam will be believed by a lot of Muslims, pointing to the disadvantage of this amateurish trial for the US.
The dominance of the Shiite fundamentalist United Iraqi Alliance in the new parliament seems more and more clear as early election results are leaked. Although the UIA did not get every seat in the 9 predominantly Shiite provinces of the south, the other small lists that got seats would almost certainly ally with it.
The two main Sunni parties and the Allawi list have rejected the election results in Iraq and demanded new elections. They are also threatening to boycott parliament if election irregularities are not addressed. But since no one thinks that the election results were actually out of line with political reality or that there will be a rerun, the Sunni parties in particular are negotiating behind the scenes for a place in the new order.
Washington is apparently encouraging the idea of a government of national unity (called for earlier this week by Jalal Talabani) as a way of reining in the Shiite fundamentalist parties, who may well be able to form a government in their own right with the help of a few small parties. Washington fears that they are too close to Iran, and also that for them to present the Sunni Arabs with a tyranny of the Shiite majority will deepen and prolong the guerrilla war.
A Norwegian petroleum company exploring for oil near Zakho in the Kurdistan confederacy of Iraq has found a field, which could be a substantial one.
The Kurdistan confederacy invited the bid from DNO without consulting the federal government in Baghdad, and the new constitution implies that the provincial government will be allowed to make a hundred percent claim on these new resources. In the past, petroleum had been owned by the Iraqi government petroleum company, and Baghdad had shared (or declined to share) the revenues with the provinces. Now the shoe is on the other foot, and many Sunni Arabs in particular are afraid that this sort of deal is the first step to the break-up of the country (or to starving them of resources).
A new Iraqi blogger, Pray4iraq has debuted.