Wednesday, November 08, 2006

National Reconciliation process seen as another victim of the death-sentence decision

Al-Quds al-Arabi leads its post-Saddam-sentencing coverage with the following: "Iraqi politicians said it was improbable (or "ruled out" the idea) that the project for National Reconciliation would come to fruition, in the wake of the collapse of the security situation in Iraq, the warning by the Iraqi Accord Front that is is studying withdrawal from the political process, and [in the wake of] the sentence of death by hanging for the former president of Iraq Saddam Hussein, which is going to result in additional political differences in Iraq."

"The politicians explained that [already] the plan for holding the third National Reconciliation meeting (the one for political groups) at the end of this month is in trouble, with leakage of information to the effect that talks between the National Reconciliation committee and the parties it spoke to in Amman recently ended up unable to set a date for the next meeting, or to agree on a [hoped-for] common plan that could be promoted in support of the national reconciliation."

The result, says the reporter, is that the next National Reconciliation meeting has again been put off without a new date, adding: "And this is what has led to predictions that this meeting will never happen, particularly after the issuance of the sentence of death by hanging for the former president of Iraq, Saddam Hussein."

There is also a somewhat unclear reference to talks Iraqi president Talabani had begun with similar groups, and those talks are also described as likely at an end as a result of the sentencing decision.

The journalist adds that prospects for the National Reconciliation process aren't going to get any better, given the escalation in violence, and he quotes National Dialogue Front leader Saleh al-Matlak as particularly critical of the timing of the sentencing announcement, just at the time when politicians were trying to sort out issues standing in the way of the national reconciliation.

The journalist adds that there is one politician who asked not to be named, who said he thinks the death-sentence can be used as a card in negotiating with the Baathists, the "trade" being the life of Saddam for concessions, but the journalist adds immediately it is hard to see how that could lead to a successful conclusion, if the Baathists felt that the good faith of the Americans was in question.

The journalist concludes: If in fact the authorities are unable to schedule this third National Reconciliation meeting, the result would be a dangerous collapse in the whole reconciliation idea. This would be particularly dangerous considering all the other current conditions including escalating violence, forced sectarian migrations, recent government decisions including the closing of two TV stations that were associated with Baath supporters (the stations Zawra and Salahaddin, closed for showing pro-Saddam demonstrations following the death-sentence), and [other government decisions like] the launching of broad arrest campaigns in cities that have seen particular opposition to the occupation, including Diyala and Salahaddin and Mosul.


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