Monday, July 16, 2007

A quiet weekend

Iraqi politicians and movement people appear to have taken a step back on the weekend.

(1) Sadrists meeting in Najaf made remarks indicating there is probably an agreement on an acceptable list of replacement-ministers for the six Sadr appointees who resigned en masse over two months ago, originally in protest against the lack of a demand by Maliki for a timetable for US withdrawal, and later re-framed as an opportunity for Maliki to appoint independent qualified people, (as opposed to the traditional sect-based spoils system). The Sadrists' statements on the weekend, summarized by Al-Hayat, indicated they had agreed on the new list of ministers, implying these will be of the "technocrat" persuasion, and not necessarily members of the sect. The list was to have been presented to Parliament today, but as luck would have it, there wasn't any electricity, so the session had to be postponed to tomorrow. And the list doesn't hasn't been disclosed elsewhere.

(2) Hakim of SIIC, in Tehran for medical treatment, made statements denying that the intent behind the so-called "moderate" coalition had anything to do with changing the Maliki administration. Azzaman said there had been rumors that part of their scheme was to replace Maliki with Adel Adbul Mahdi (a US favorite and currently one of the two vice-presidents of the republic), and Hakim was intent on putting that idea to rest. Hakim also said the governing coalition is intent on trying to hang onto participation by "our Sunni brothers". He apparently didn't mention the Sadrists specifically, but the whole idea was that the "moderate" coalition wasn't intended to exclude any group "whether moderate or extreme".

(3) As for the recent Maliki statement attacking the Sadrists for harboring Baathists and Sadaamists and so on, a Maliki spokesman said this wasn't intended as an attack on that honorable and patriotic group, but rather was an expression of regret over possible damage to their reputation by being associated with discredited elements. Some Sadrists took that as an apology.

The Sadrists also expressed satisfaction over the fact that the government has signed a contract for the rebuilding of the Samara shrine, with a specific timetable for completion, and that was cited as another reason for their probable return to participation in Parliament.


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