Friday, January 25, 2008

Jaafari talks to the resistance

Ibrahim Jaafari, the former Prime Minister, is in Cairo as part of a tour of Arab capitals. Jaafari is a member of the Dawa Party, but the wing of the party he heads (Dawa Party--Iraq Organization) has split from the wing headed by current PM Maliki and has signed an agreement with the Sadrists, some Sunni parties, and others (the famous "12-party understanding") espousing a "nationalist" program particularly insofar as it opposes Kurdistan-only oil contracts, and in effect declares Clause 140 of the Constitution a dead letter, meaning there can be no further dickering over the status of Kirkuk. Other "nationalist" principles are expressed too, although a little more vaguely.

In an interview with Radio Sawa on Friday, Jaafari said the following (according to the radio's website):
As to the parties with whom he had discussions in Cairo on ways for implementing national reconciliation, Jaafari said he met with Iraqi factions that bear arms and that have a nationalist program, in order to hear their points of view and discuss ways of bringing them into the political process in the interests of the nation, although he does not agree with them, in his words.

Jaafari stressed the importance of hanging on to the recent improvements in security and using that to promote the national reconciliation project, so that this doesn't turn out to be the calm before the storm.

Jaafari said his project is not that of a substitute for that of the government, and he does not intend the creation of an oppositional movement to the government of Nuri al-Maliki. The front he intends to create will not differ in anything that concerns the good of the country, as he put it.
Jaafari concluded by saying that "the political support I have obtained in Cairo" is something that will be to the benefit of the Maliki government.

This is the first I have ever heard of a Shiite party leader having discussions with any of the armed Sunni resistance groups, and I think the news is noteworthy for that reason. Which in turn suggests something else (something pointed out to me already a couple of times in the comments, and only now starting to sink in), and that is that there probably is some degree actual nationalist and "democratic" influence going on in the GreenZone, for instance why else would the US have been stymied so far in getting its Oil and Gas Law enacted; and how else can you explain Sunni parties signing on with the Sadrists and the Jaafari wing of the Dawa to any memo of agreement, no matter how vague.

Naturally this has to be disentangled from those activities that reflect the American effort to produce a broader-based GreenZone government mainly for the purpose of legitimizing the new bi-lateral security agreement, so in the coming period of time it may be a little more difficult than usual to sort this out.

(Thanks to the omniscient roadstoiraq for calling attention to the Radio Sawa item).

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the Green Zone "nationalists" are only people who realize the occupation will be gone in a while, and they better find another horse to ride.

7:58 AM  
Blogger badger said...

That's one point. But if you're the resistance rep talking to Jaafari, I don't think that's necessarily your main point. If a person comes to espouse national positions, like opposition to the Oil Law and to Kurds-only oil contracts, so much the better, no matter how long it took them to come around. They're both Iraqis, and they have some common ground, so they can talk. But they disagree on the prior need to drive out the occupier by force. Because the the crucial point is always: Whether you can talk about institutionalizing national affairs without a withdrawal of the foreign forces, or at least an iron-clad commitment to their withdrawal. Forcing commitment to US withdrawal is the key, and that means armed resistance. I think that's where Jaafari means he talked to them but he doesn't agree with them.

So from the long-term good of Iraq, having a Shiite leader sit with Sunni resistance people, on the basis of some areas of policy agreement, is a good thing, and it would be hard to say it isn't. But if you're in the resistance, it's also a bad thing and a dangerous thing, if it implies that you're ready to discuss institutional arrangements without having first driven out the occupier. (And the fact that your interlocutor is a johnny-come-lately to his nationalist positions may well, as you suggest, factor in).

9:16 AM  

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