Friday, April 21, 2006

The New Prime Minister

Not, unfortunately, in this country. Yet.

It looks like there's been some movement in the negotiations over the nomination for Iraqi Prime Minister. Yesterday Al-Jaafari (of the Dawa Party) decided to step aside in the face of intense opposition from the Sunni and Kurdish blocs. The UIA have now decided to put forward Jawad al-Maliki for the role. It appears that Sunni and Kurdish politicians are prepared to accept al-Maliki as Prime Minister.
"If anyone is nominated except al-Jaafari, we won't put any obstacles in his way. He will receive our support," said Adnan al-Dulaimi, head of the main Sunni Arab coalition in the Iraqi parliament.

Mahmoud Othman, a leading Kurdish politician, said his bloc would not oppose Maliki.
Auntie reports that "he has also not been opposed by any of the outside powers who are influential here".* It looks like he's going to be the man. There's a bit more information about him here.

The strange thing is that al-Maliki is also a member of the Dawa Party. He and al-Jaafari appear to be close allies. It's hard too see quite why al-Maliki is considered acceptable by the very same people who were so vehemently opposed to al-Jaafari .

Al-Dulaimi (of the (Sunni) Iraqi Accord Front) is apparently prepared to support anyone but al-Jaafari. This, to the extent that his alliance appears to be ready to accept a candidate who'll have pretty much exactly the same policies. I suspect this is partly down to the animosity which some Iraqi politicians feel towards al-Jaafari personally. The strength of the opposition to al-Jaafari may also have been motivated by a desire by those outwith the UIA to show that they could have an influence on preceedings (even if it actually gains them nothing of any substance in practical terms).

Anyway, it looks like al-Maliki will be sworn in shortly. Then he'll appoint the cabinet. The key one will be the Interior Ministry. Will he leave it under the control of the SCIRI? It's hard to say what truth there is behind the allegations made against the Interior Ministry under Bayan Jabr but it is clear that he has lost the confidence of almost all Iraqi Sunnis. If Iraq is to have even a tiny chance of averting an all out civil war, there needs to be a new Interior Minister who can inspire confidence from all sides.

In other news, kidnapping goes on apace as does internal displacement fuelled by sectarian violence. Those bad news loving, Bush hating, cheese eating, defeatist, liberal media fools are unimpressed though. It's all a bit old news.

One other thing. Al-Jaafari claimed his legitimacy off the back of him being the UIA candidate for Prime Minister. The UIA got a majority 41% share of a 79% turnout at the 2005 election. Jack Straw made it abundantly clear that the UK government did not consider this mandate enough to guarantee al-Jaafari's position.

Tony Blair claimed his legitimacy off the back of him being the Labour candidate for Prime Minister. The Labour Party got a majority 35% share of a 61% turnout at the 2005 election. The UK government makes it abundantly clear that it considers this mandate enough to guarantee Blair's position no matter how outrageously or incompetantly he and his cronies behave.

Of course, this war in Iraq is all about the promotion of universal values.

A couple of weeks ago, in the aftermath of the US controlled attack on the Shiite Mustafa mosque in Baghdad, al-Maliki made a statement on behalf of the UIA.
"The Alliance calls for a rapid restoration of (control of) security matters to the Iraqi government," Jawad al-Maliki, a senior spokesman of the Shi'ite Islamist Alliance and ally of Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, told a news conference.
This again highlights the absurdities of the current situation. If al-Maliki is able to form a new government to replace the temporary one he was speaking for last month, how will the coalition react to this demand? Will they agree to place US and UK troops, and the Iraqi forces currently under their control, under the strategic command of the new Iraqi government? Realistically, there's no chance of that happening.

That refusal can only be another reminder that the new government of Iraq will be a very long way from being able to exercise the rights of a fully sovereign democratic government. And yet the people who'll be opposed to giving them these rights will be the very same one's who'll be boldly proclaiming that they already do.

* "The outside powers who are influential here," you say? That's a classic bit of BBC neutral phrasing if ever I saw one. I think they mean the outside influence of the US and UK governments'. The problem for Auntie is that this outside influence has no democratic mandate and is in fact a perversion of the very thing we're now told we're there to support. That's undoubtedly true but in the polluted debate which has been created by the architects and proponents of the war, in an attempt to hide their failures and lies, it's also become a political statement. And the BBC are contractually obliged to be neutral when it comes to political statements. When the facts stubbornly refuse to be obligingly neutral, you can see how this puts them in a bit of a bind.

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