Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Iraq Talks Fail, Succeed say Reuters, AP

Are you confused about the current state of political negociations between ethnic groups in Iraq? Relax, you're in good company: so are the world's leading news agencies.

First try Reuters:
Shi'ite-Kurdish Talks to Form Iraq Government Fail

Talks between Kurdish leaders and a Shi'ite bloc to form the next Iraqi government have collapsed three days before the country's first fully elected parliament meets, senior politicians said on Sunday.

Ahmad Chalabi, a leading member of the Shi'ite bloc, the United Iraqi Alliance, returned empty-handed on Saturday from a trip to Iraqi Kurdistan to try and save the proposed Kurdish-Shi'ite alliance.

"The meetings have collapsed. There was no deal," an aide to Chalabi told Reuters.

Kurdish politicians went further, saying the Shi'ite alliance was trying to blame them for the crisis that has paralyzed decision-making in a country plagued by guerrilla bombings and starved of investment needed for rebuilding.

"They want to lay the responsibility for the political equation solely on the Kurdish side," interim Deputy Prime Minister Barham Salih, a Kurd, told al-Arabiya television.

"We are willing to sacrifice the presidency to the Shi'ites if the Shi'ites sacrifice the premiership to a Sunni," Salih said.
Admittedly, that does look bad. But now try Associated Press:
Iraqi leaders near deal on government
Kurds, Shiites to form coalition

Patrick Quinn, Associated Press

Kurdish leaders said they were near a final agreement Sunday with the majority Shiites to form a coalition government when Iraq's first democratically elected parliament in modern history convenes later this week.

Further talks are scheduled in Baghdad today. The deal calls for Jalal Talabani, a Kurdish leader, to be named president. Conservative Islamic Dawa party leader Ibrahim al-Jaafari, of the Shiite majority, would become prime minister....

The two camps are to formalize their agreement today, two days before the National Assembly convenes for the first time since Jan. 30 elections. Interim Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, a Kurd, said a Kurdish delegation was to meet with the alliance again today before the deal is announced, emphasizing that a final agreement was close.
As if the differing thrust of these two accounts were not confusing enough, the AP report says a Shi'ite is set to become prime minister -with a Kurd as president; whereas the Reuters article says the talks failed to agree on a Shi'ite as president with a Sunni as prime minister.

That last detail indicates the Kurds are unwilling to freeeze out the Sunni -and would be a key political development -if true. By the way, looks like the Sunni are being pressured:
The Association of Muslim Clerics, a leading Sunni group, complained Sunday U.S. troops had searched the home of its leader for the second time in a week. [Reuters]
Summary: Overall the talks are going well, badly and look certain to succeed, fail. It can be expected that a Kurd, Shia or Sunni will be prime minister or president -or both.

Thanks for clearing that up guys.


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