Shiite control of Interior a Red Line
Al-Zaman reports [Ar.] that Abdul Aziz al-Hakim of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq is still determined to try to obtain for his faction of the Shiite religious coalition, the United Iraqi Alliance, the prime ministership. His candidate is Adil Abdul Mahdi, who is running against Dawa Party leader Ibrahim Jaafari, the current prime minister. The two will lobby parliamentarians this weekend with dueling, lavish banquets. There will likely be an up and down vote by the UIA on the nomination, though its exact details have yet to be worked out. The formation of a new government is moving at a glacial pace, and it may take months.
Al-Sharq al-Awsat [Ar.] says that its sources in the Kurdistan Alliance say that the Kurds are tilting toward Abdul Mahdi as prime minister. The Kurds would also prefer that powerful cabinet posts such as Interior and Defense go to technocrats not affiliated with a party or militia.
The problem is that, as noted below, the Shiites are saying that their control of Interior is a “red line” that cannot be crossed.
Revised: The Shiites can probably retain the Interior Ministry if they bargain hard with the Kurds, although in this parliament and for the next 4 years it is necessary to get a 2/3s majority to elect a president who will then appoint a prime minister. (In 2009, it will be possible to elect a president on a second round with just 51 percent; sorry to have gotten this wrong in the first edition of this posting today, and thanks to Andrew Arato for the correction.) The Shiite religious coalition just needs 138 parliamentarians to vote with them to run the government on their own, which is itself a bargaining chip in the formation of an initial government. They have 132 (128 UIA, 2 Sadrist Risaliyun, 1 Christian and 1 other). If they can make a sufficiently sweet offer to the Yazidi MP and to the 5 Kurdish Islamists, they’d have their 51%. The Kurdish Islamists are apparently saying that they won’t vote with the Kurdistan Alliance (see below), which suggests that they are available for a deal with the Shiite religious parties. It would be a mere marriage of convenience, but couldn’t be ruled out.
Al-Zaman also reports that guerrillas detonated a bomb in Mosul aimed at a passing American convoy, but missed and killed a number of civilians instead, as well as badly damaging buildings. Two bodies were discovered in Mosul, those of a student and an unidentified civilian. A former Baath military commander was assassinated.
There is some sort of deep dark conspiracy involved in the stationing of 120 Bulgarian troops at the Ashraf base in Iraq to guard 4000 members of the Iranian dissident terrorist cult, the Mojahedin-e Khalq [MEK]. The group was used by Saddam to blow things up in Iran, and has been defended by Neocons in the US such as Daniel Pipes and Patrick Clawson. The Iraqi Shiites want it out of Iraq, but instead the Pentagon has kept it in place. A lot of the phony intelligence about alleged Iranian nuclear weapons programs is manufactured by the MEK, which has bought a number of powerful US senators and congressmen.
Scroll down at the link above and read the article about the UPI article about the Lord’s Resistance Army, a Christian cult that has terrorized Uganda and kidnapped 20,000 children. People keep asking me why Muslim movements are more destructive than those in other religions. But the people who ask that have never bothered to read about groups such as the LRA, which is as “Christian” as al-Qaeda is “Muslim” or Aum Shinrikyo is “Buddhist.”
From BBC World Monitoring of the Iraqi Press for Jan. 31:
‘ Al-Bayyinah on 29 January carries on the front page a 700-word exclusive report citing well-informed sources confirming that Iraqi National Bloc candidates Rasim al-Awwadi and Asim al-Janabi have requested Talabani to exclude them from the de-Ba’thification process. The report cites Adil al-Lami confirming that IECI is obliged to follow De-Ba’thification Committee’s decisions in this regard.
Al-Bayyinah on 29 January runs on the front page a 340-word exclusive report citing Unified Iraqi Coalition Candidate Jawad al-Maliki confirming that the coalition will announce the mechanism for the nomination of the next prime minister during its meeting today. When asked about Zalmay Khalilzad’s recent statement, Al-Maliki said: “We reject all forms of interference.” . . .
Al-Bayyinah on 29 January publishes on page two a 270-word exclusive report citing Unified Iraqi Coalition Candidate Hasan al-Sari confirming that parliament’s opening session will be held within 15 days after the endorsement of the election results . . .
Al-Adalah carries on the front page a 120-word report citing Interior Minister Baqir Jabr Sulagh confirming that Unified Iraqi Coalition will retain more than half the ministerial posts in the next government . . .
Al-Zaman publishes on the front page a 350-word exclusive report citing Unified Iraqi Coalition Candidate Hadi al-Amiri confirming that the coalition regards Interior Ministry as a “red line”. . .
Dar al-Salam on 29 January carries on the front page a 120-word report citing Kurdistan Islamic Union member Hamid Muhammad Ali refusing to join Kurdistan Coalition . . .
Al-Mashriq publishes on page two a 1,200-word report that Al-Sadr Trend rejects federalism in south and central regions, and has asserted the necessity of respecting the honour document signed earlier. . .
Al-Mashriq devotes all of page six to the survey conducted by the newspaper regarding the religious fatwa that encouraged Iraqis to participate in the elections. The survey shows that 80 per cent of Iraqis were affected by these fatwas, 15 per cent were secular, and the remaining 5 per cent took part because they wanted to be part of this political process . . .
Al-Bayyinah on 29 January devotes all of pages eight and nine to an interview with Women’s Affairs Minister Dr Azhar al-Shaykhli on the ministry’s activities and goals and women’s role in the political process. . .
Al-Ittijah al-Akhar on 28 January runs on page four an 800-word report entitled “Unprecedented Deterioration in Iraq’s Security Situation”.
Al-Ittijah al-Akhar on 28 January publishes on page eight a 400-word report on the postponement of National Conciliation Conference. . .
Al-Bayyinah on 29 January publishes on the front page a 130-word report citing well-informed sources accusing local and foreign parties of financing Islamic Army, a newly formed militia responsible for the assassination of Shi’is in Iraq. The report accuses former Defence Minister Hazim al-Sha’lan’s followers of selling conventional weapons and weapons of mass destruction to unknown parties . . .
Al-Zaman publishes on page three a 500-word report citing Al-Najaf Artifacts Director Muhammad Hadi Bidan confirming the arrest of seven smugglers and the seizure of 174 historical artifacts. He explained that they were planning to sell the artifacts to multinational troops in Al-Diwaniyah. . .
Al-Zaman runs on page five a 400-word report on the demonstration organized by Wasit Advisory Council today, 30 January, to protest the random killings by multinational forces . . .
Al-Mashriq publishes on the front page a 50-word report that USAID has predicted serious deterioration in the security situation in Iraq despite optimism of Iraqi officials in Ministry of Interior. . .
Al-Zaman publishes on page three a 400-word report citi ng Basra environment director confirming that 70 per cent of Basra’s untreated sewage goes into Shat al-Arab, which is the main source for drinking water.
Al-Zaman carries on page three a 300-word report citing Ninawah Jurists Union Chairman Abd-al-Sattar al-Baku’a praising Al-Karkh Court’s decision to rule out Justice Ministry’s decision to dissolve Iraqi Lawyers Association. . .
Al-Furat carries on the front page a 250-word report citing chairman of Pro-Children’s Rights Association in Basra saying that his association conducted a symposium on the shortage in medicines in Basra at Basra Public Hospital. . .
Tariq al-Sha’b devotes all of page four to a report citing pharmacists commenting on medicines being sold on roads and drug addiction.
Tariq al-Sha’b carries on page nine a 700-word report citing pharmacists in Basra complaining about the shortage in medicines because some gangs smuggle them to neighbouring countries. . .
Al-Mashriq publishes on page four a 200-word report that 200,000 poor families in Baghdad are being covered by the social care system. . . .
Al-Zaman publishes on page two a 300-word report citing Deputy Governor Abd-al-Husayn Abtan confirming 90 per cent completion of the construction of Al-Najaf Airport. The report cites Al-Najaf Governor As’ad Abu Kalal outlining the results of his recent visit to India. . .
Al-Zaman publishes on page three a 1,000-word report entitled “Diyala University’s Students and Professors: We Live between the Hammer of Deteriorating Security and Anvil of Electricity Outages.” . . .
Al-Ittijah al-Akhar on 28 January devotes all of pages 34 and 35 to an article by Dr Rif’at Sayyid Ahmad on the deteriorating Iraqi economy due to “occupation.”
Al-Mu’tamar carries on page two a 500-word report citing Industry and Minerals Ministry’s Undersecretary Adil Karim Ahmad saying that the ministry has prepared plans to privatize its companies and factories. He added that the ministry will construct 20 cement factories. . .
Tariq al-Sha’b carries on page two a 230-word report citing director general of Integrity Commission in Ninawah saying that the increase in crude oil transport costs from Bayji refineries to Ibrahim al-Khalil Complex is because terrorists take their shares from drivers.
Tariq al-Sha’b carries on page two an 80-word report citing a press source saying that Karbala is devoid of electricity since Friday. . .
Al-Mashriq publishes on page five a 350-word report that Iraq’s oil exports are expected to drop to 1.1m barrels per day, the lowest since the latest war. . .
Al-Bayyinah on 29 January publishes on page three a 1,400-word article by Salman al-Shammari entitled “Effective Parliament and Strong Parliamentary Opposition,” saying that it is not wise for all forces to participate in the government. . .
Al-Bayyinah on 29 January publishes on page four a 750-word unattributed article criticizing Sunni clerics and religious organizations for not condemning terrorist attacks against Shi’is.
Al-Bayyinah on 29 January runs on page four a 1,000-word article by Arif al-Jawahiri entitled “Unified Iraqi Coalition Rejects Maram Front’s Call for Sectarian Proportional Power Sharing Government.” . . .
Al-Bayyinah on 29 January runs on page 10 a 1,000-word article by Nadir al-Khazraji discussing federalism and proposing the formation of two federal blocs in Iraq: Kurdistan and Arab federal bloc. . .