Monday, January 22, 2007

Opposite interpretations of the Sadrists' return to Parliament

Aswat al-Iraq published yesterday the bare bones of the Sunday press-conference at which the president of Parliament announced the return of the Sadrist bloc to parliamentary and government activities, citing an agreement to study the Sadrist demands by a five-party parliamentary committee, and a remark by a non-Sadrist in the UIA to the effect all the parties agree on the essence of what the Sadrists are demanding, and the differences have to do with technical issues of implementation. Al-Hayat this morning adds important details. Among the demands are a resolution to the effect that the American military presence in Iraq will not be extended (beyond its current UN justification) without the approval of the Iraqi parliament, and that there will be deadlines for the handover of security to the Iraqi forces.

And one of the Sadrist members at the press conference said there was also agreement with the government that Sadrist persons arrested will be released over the coming weeks, starting with Abdul Hadi al-Darraji who will be released "in the coming hours". The Sadrist member, Nassar al-Rubaie, added that the negotiations that have been going on over the recent period of time have resulted in "cutting down major ostacles separating the political parties, respecting the need to expel the American forces from the country since they have become persona non grata".

A spokesman for the Kurdish coalition in parliament welcomed the return of the Sadrists, noting that their absense has contributed to the inability deal with major issues in Parliament for the lack of quorums. There isn't any elaboration on what issues they have in mind in particular.

It should be noted that of course Al-Hayat has no pro-Sadr or even anti-occupation tinge whatsoever, and this is something that should lend weight to their representation of this event as a bona fide rapprochement of some kind between the Sadrists and the other parties.

(The opposite view is that this is nothing but a mililtary tactic, with "Moqtada and his followers ly[ing] low in times when they are under direct military pressure...and are storing their arms in their closets". Cole cites with approval an AP story that says "Iraq's prime minister has dropped his protection of an anti-American cleric's Shiite militia after U.S. intelligence convinced him the group was infiltrated by death squads, two [anonymous] officials said Sunday.")


Anonymous Anonymous said...

To my mind, your work on J. Cole is one of the most important contributions you make to understanding the 'reality' of Iraq.

Ironically, he has enstablished himself and the leading academic voice against Bush policies and at the same time continues to tacitly put forth 'analysis' that is consistent with Bush policies. He is a mystery.

4:26 AM  

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