Political Crisis Worsens As Sectarian

Political Crisis Worsens as Sectarian War Threatens

The Financial Times reports further on the fighting in Adhamiyah on Monday and Tuesday, asking whether the incident suggests greater Sunni Arab backing for the guerrillas. But I am told, and the Baghdad press also reports, that the real significance here was that the Shiite death squads in the ministry of interior tried to operate in force and in daylight in a Sunni Arab neighborhood. Earlier, they had had to kidnap and kill at night.

Al-Zaman / AFP / Reuters report that that the parliamentary crisis got even worse on Tuesday. The National Iraqi list of Iyad Allawi insisted on putting him forth for one of vice president positions. He has been rejected by the Sunni Arab religious coalition, the National Accord Front, on the grounds that Allawi is a Shiite and would forestall there being a Sunni Arab vice president.

Tariq al-Hashimi of the Sunni religious Iraqi Accord front attacked the fundamentalist Shiites for insisting on their candidate for prime minister. The (Shiite) United Iraqi Alliance has rejected al-Hashimi as speaker of the house on the grounds that he is too sectarian. Al-Hashimi is now putting forth his deputy, Iyad al-Samarra’i, as candidate for speaker.

Abdul Razzaq al-Kadhimi, a spokesman for Jaafari, complained to al-Zaman that there were forces attempting to split up the United Iraqi Alliance (the coalition of Shiite religious parties), and to interfere in its internal affairs. He said their goal is to have Iraq restored to its old way of doing things.

For his part, al-Hashimi said that that the UIA has already been given too much time form a government, and that the other blocs should create a coalition in parliament that would allow them to nominate a prime minister.

Al-Zaman/ AFP report that the grand ayatollahs in Najaf, including Sistani, have decided not to attend the conference to be held in Amman this Saturday, at the invitation of King Abdullah II. No reason was given. But this is a blow to the hope of getting the clergy, at least, to come to an understanding at the Amman conference. In contrast, young nationalist cleric Muqtada al-Sadr will send a representative. Likewise, provincial clergy of both major branches of Islam, from Mosul to Basra, are planning to attend.

[The Jordanian embassy on Wednesday denied the report that Sistani will not send a delegate. A spokesman said the grand ayatollah is still committed to the conference. Obviously something is going on, but what?]

Joost Hilterman sensibly argues that the US and Iran should put aside their differences and work to restore stability in Iraq.

The LA Times reports that the Kurdistan Confederacy is developing its own oil ministry, a further step toward autonomy from Baghdad.

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