Friday, May 09, 2008

UIA politicians getting involved in Sadr City settlement talks (Updated)

There have been a number of proposals for ending the crisis in Sadr City, AlHayat reminds us this morning, including
two from members of parliament, one from President of the Republic Talabani, and a proposal by leaders of Sunni tribes calling for an immediate end to the military operations and a peaceful resolution of the crisis, none of them successful in ending the crisis. Instead, the military operations in Sadr City continue, with seven reported killed yesterday and 19 wounded, while meanwhile the government forces closed the radio station Al-Ahad belonging to the Sadrist current.
Against this background, the AlHayat reporter says there is now an initiative by the Shiite "Alliance" (meaning the United Iraqi Alliance, or UIA, which now consists only of Dawa, the Supreme Council and a few independents) with what some call a proposed comprehensive settlement, and others a merely a framework for talks. What is new is that the proponent is the bloc that is ostensibly one of the few remaining supporters of the Maliki administration (in the parliamentary sense at least), so this raises the question whether Maliki would reject a proposal coming from this group as he has rebuffed the others.

There are several versions of this, the first from Supreme Council politician Jalaladdin Al-Sagheer:
[Al-Sagheer] said the bloc has proposed an initiative for the comprehensive resolution of the crisis between the Sadrist trend and the government. He added: "A broad-based meeting was held and it issued a proposal including an end to the military operations in Sadr City in exchange for the Sadr trend voluntarily turning over a number of wanted and armed persons, to end the suffering of innocent people in the city." Sagheer didn't mention the issue of "dissolving the Mahdi Army", but he said "this proposal, if it is accepted, will not bind the government, however the UIA will use its weight with the government to urge it to accept it".
That's the first version of the proposal. Here's another version:
A source within the council that prepared the proposal, who didn't want his name disclosed, said the proposal includes limiting the operations within Sadr City to the Iraqi forces and withdrawing the American forces; releasing citizens that are arrested, where there aren't specific accusations against them, within a specified period of time not to exceed 24 hours; and turning over weapons within the city in exchange for monetary payment.
And here is another version:
Sadr spokesman Salah Al-Obeidi told AlHayat: "The new proposal was presented to the Sadr trend by Shiite parties within and outside the UIA bloc and it is for having urgent discussions and a resolution of the crisis at the earliest time.
Obeidi said the Sadrist trend is in agreement with that, adding there were to be discussions Thursday evening "with political leaders in the UIA, and perhaps [with people in] the government", for preliminary talks and so that all of the parties get a chance to table their demands. The journalist concludes:
Obeidi said he doesn't know the purport or the tenor of the proposal, "but we will meet with them in any case in order to understand the content [of what they have to propose]".

He said "It appears that a number of parties in the UIA have become dissatisfied with the government's escalation, and with its rejection of the dozens of proposals that have been made for a resolution of this security crisis, which is starting to generate humanitarian crises, including killing of innocent civilians, and forced dislocation of hundreds of people".

UPDATE: A Sadrist member of parliament, Zeinab al-Kanani, told Aswat al Iraq on Friday May 9 that several Sadrist delegations led by Salah al-Obeidi have been meeting with members of the UIA and other parliamentary blocs since yesterday (Thusday), with a view to resolving the crisis. She said the results are going well, but there are some key issues that remain unresolved, including the issue of turning over armed persons against who there are arrest warrants, the number of such persons being over 40. She said the Sadrists do not object to the question of house-searches for the purpose of disarmament, adding that in the last few days there have been searches that have occurred without any incidents to speak of. She said she is inclined to think that the next few days will see an agreement with the government that will defuse this situation.


Blogger Helena Cobban said...

An important catch, Badger, as always. Thanks!

8:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One of the things that strikes me about this is the apparent assumption that the siege and attacks on Sadr City are initiatives of the so-called "government", as opposed to the American occupiers. I do not believe that for a moment, and I also do not believe that it is up to the "government" when or how this latest American war crime ends. It is, I am convinced, an American operation.

In my view, Sadr and his group are the biggest threat to the Americans because Sadr is a nationalist who is powerful, increasingly influential, and more and more has potential to unite the nationalists from all groups against the American presence and domination of the country. Therefore, the Sadrists must be crushed.

And of course it is regrettable that they will have to Fallujize Sadr City, kill lots of Iraqi men, women, children and elderly, cause millions to suffer, and displace tens if not hundreds of thousands more Iraqis in order to do that. And of course, they don't care.

11:17 PM  

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