- Obama’s regulatory agenda will cost U.S. economy $143B next year: report
- Patriot Act author on James Clapper: Fire, prosecute him
- Russia P.M. Medvedev: No amnesty for political prisoners
- Michigan GOP Senate hopeful reminds government is the ‘servant’
- Christmas, by Congress: Members mull a 15-cent tax on trees
- U.S. unemployment falls to five-year low of 7 percent; 203K jobs added
- World mourns Nelson Mandela and celebrates his life; burial set for Dec. 15
- Bill O’Reilly reminds: Nelson Mandela ‘was a communist’
- John Boehner says GOP should support gay candidates: ‘I do’
- Grass-Whopper: Pan-fried cricket burgers go over big in New York City
Bombs rock Iraq as leaders seek power-sharing deal
Four deadly explosions rocked Iraq Monday as political leaders hustled to seal a power-sharing agreement in time for the convening of the country’s Parliament.
The blasts, a suicide bomb and three car bombs, killed at least 28 people — mostly Iranian pilgrims — in the Shiite cities of Basra, Najaf and Karbala. Monday’s attacks came on the heels of another series of coordinated attacks on Shiite targets last week that killed about 90 people and an Islamist siege of an Iraqi church that claimed 58 lives.
Meanwhile, in the northern Kurdish city of Irbil, top figures from Iraq’s major parties met behind closed doors Monday in a bid to break the political deadlock that has gripped the country for eight months. The three-day talks begin as the Iraqi Parliament prepares to resume work Thursday, following an order by the country’s Supreme Court.
Iraq held elections for its 325-member national Parliament on March 7. Former Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi’s Iraqiya coalition emerged victorious with 91 seats, narrowly edging out the 89 seats won by current Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s State of Law party and setting off a furious battle for the premiership.
Mr. al-Maliki has been well-positioned since last month, when Muqtada al-Sadr — the radical Shiite cleric whose followers won 39 of the 70 seats captured by the Iranian-backed Iraqi National Alliance — dropped his opposition to another term for the incumbent.
Mr. al-Maliki reportedly also has received the backing of the main Kurdish bloc, which won 43 seats in the elections. Just 163 seats are needed to form a majority government, though leaders in Iraq and around the world have said repeatedly that Iraq’s delicate ethnic balance and troubled postwar history make it imperative that none of the country’s three major sects — the Shiite-Arab majority and the Sunni-Arab and Kurdish minorities — is excluded.
“It’s really hard to see any solution in the short term between Maliki and Allawi because they’re very far apart in what they’re demanding,” he said, noting that Iraqiya wanted an empowered version of the presidency that would require Kurdish leader Jalal Talabani to step down and for Iraqis to change the constitution.
While Mr. Allawi is himself a secular Shiite, the vast majority of the bloc’s members and supporters are Sunnis, igniting fears that Iraqiya’s exclusion could reverse the progress made since Sunni leaders turned away from the postwar insurgency.
The most likely outcome at the moment, Mr. Visser said, is a Shiite-Kurdish coalition with the participation of couple of smaller Sunni parties.
“The other scenario,” he said, “is that the Kurds decide that if Iraqiya is not going, then they won’t go either, but the signs over the last few days are that the Kurds are increasingly willing to go with Maliki. They will want it to look as if they tried, but they now seem eager to move ahead because Maliki apparently has given them a lot of concessions.”
Brian Katulis, a Middle East analyst at the Center for American Progress, cautioned that a deal with Iraqiya would not be a panacea.
The violence and continuing failure to resolve core disputes, he said, “punctures the surface-level analyses falling under the banner, ‘the surge worked.’”
“Iraq today remains stuck in a dangerous limbo,” he said. “Certainly the overall security situation is improved, but the whole basket of political and economic development issues remain in a troubling state of affairs.”
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Ben Birnbaum is a reporter covering foreign affairs for The Washington Times. Prior to joining The Times, Birnbaum worked as a reporter-researcher at the New Republic. A Boston-area native, he graduated magna cum laude from Cornell University with a degree in government and psychology. He won multiple collegiate journalism awards for his articles and columns in the Cornell Daily Sun.
- Spike in battlefield deaths linked to restrictive rules of engagement
- Activists urge Obama to go rogue, sidestep Congress
- Bill OReilly reminds: Nelson Mandela was a communist
- PRUDEN: British press horrified as London's new mayor dares to proclaim the truth
- U.S. pilot scares off Iranians with 'Top Gun'-worthy stunt: 'You really ought to go home'
- Obama administration issues permits for wind farms to kill more eagles
- Inside China: Nuclear submarines capable of widespread attack on U.S.
- NAPOLITANO: Pope Francis should be saving souls, not pocketbooks
- CARSON: Getting to the top by starting at the bottom
- Obamas call to close Vatican embassy is 'slap in the face' to Roman Catholics
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Interviews and show reviews from the Los Angeles punk scene past and present. Los Angeles has always been rich in punk rock talent since punk rock was born.
Inside the sport of hockey from a scout’s perspective
Classical music and the performing arts: news and reviews you can use.
For moms, dads, kids, tech heads, travelers, kitchen mavens and everyone else on your holiday gift list
White House pets gone wild!