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On January 30, 2005, Iraqis elected a 275-member transitional National Assembly that replaced the US-installed Interim Government. After two months, a government was formed and set with the task of drafting a permanent constitution. Months of negotiations led to a controversial draft constitution that was only finalized a few days before the October 15 referendum. Despite a strong Sunni showing in opposition, the constitution was approved with the provision that lawmakers can amend it after a new government is established in 2006. On December 15, 2005, Iraqis voted in a nation-wide election for a permanent, 4-year National Assembly.
After four months of delay in forming a national-unity government, Nouri al-Maliki was elected Prime Minister on April 21, 2006. A month later, parliament voted in favor of a 36-member Cabinet. Following nearly three weeks of wrangling between the main parties in the governing Shiite alliance, the key government posts of defense and interior ministries were filled on June 8, 2006. Prime Minister Maliki, a Shiite Muslim, faces a perilous obstacle course. Analysts contend that a government made up of squabbling factions forced together by political expediency and US pressure is inherently weak. In addition, Maliki has inherited a weary and fragmented nation to govern.
In an attempt to diminish the violence and placate the Sunni Arab insurgency, Maliki unveiled a controversial 28-point US-backed national reconciliation plan in June 2006. The plan invited insurgents to lay down their weapons and join the political process, promising an amnesty for opponents who have not committed war crimes or terrorist actions. Despite Maliki's plan for reconciliation, sectarian violence continues to rise and disputes over regionalism, oil control and amendments to Iraq's constitution threaten the already fragile unity of the government.
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Close to the first anniversary of the current Iraqi government of Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki, Iraqi faith in the political process is fading. The government is weak and fragile and many key posts are still vacant. Iraq has consistently been in the top ten of the Failed State Index, which is based on indicators such as public services, refugee flows and poverty. Eight years after the invasion by the US and its partners, this is a long way from the promised democracy and prosperity. (Niqash)
The Iraqi government is trying to silence corruption whistleblowers. Critics are being intimidated and officials who intend to prosecute fraudsters are removed. Last month, the head of the anti-corruption framework was forced to resign. The regime is effectively dealing with the accusations by punishing the accusers. Critics of the anti-corruption framework argue that it is “like an aspirin to Iraq’s cancer.”·(Counterpunch)
On November 8, the Iraqi Parliament finally approved a revised election law, enabling the January 2010 elections to take place as planned. One of the main disputes revolved around the status of the disputed northern city of Kirkuk. MPs reached a compromise whereby Kirkuk will be treated like any other governorate, but the votes in Kirkuk could be placed under special review after the election. The compromise may prove fragile if parliamentarians later invoke the special review mechanism. (Guardian)
The Iraqi Parliament did not begin reforming the Electoral Commission until early October, although criticisms of the commission reach back to January 2009. With so little time remaining until the January 2010 elections, there is talk about election postponement, even though the previous elections were held under worse conditions. Delaying the elections would be in violation of the Iraqi constitution and cast doubt on the viability of the country's democratic institutions. ·(As-Sabah/Mideast wire)
The National Iraqi Alliance has caused some controversy by asking that Iraqi ex-patriots be excluded from voting in the January 2010 elections. They argue that as few Iraqi abroad tend to vote, providing this service wastes a substantial amount of money. The Alliance also fears ·that the voting process for Iraqi ex-patriots will not be transparent, as they believe several of Iraqi's neighbors wish to influence the outcome.
According to Transparency International's annual corruption perceptions index, Iraq suffers from substantially more corruption now than it did under Saddam Hussein. ·Through corruption, civilians encounter difficulty in obtaining basic government services while politicians line their pockets with cash. This erodes the public's trust in the government, which can encourage citizens to look to tribal or sectarian leaders as sources of authority and power. (Truthout)
As the national elections approach, parties in Iraq are beginning the task of alliance building. In the Sunni province of Anbar, parties are seeking alliances across the sectarian divide. Sheikh Hamid Al-Hayes' Salvation Council had won no seats in the provincial elections, but sources say he hopes his new alliance with a Shia coalition will lead to success in January. (Niqash)
Shiite political groups have formed the Iraqi National Alliance, a new coalition to contest the upcoming election of 2010. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and his Islamic Dawa Party have absented themselves from this coalition, so he must ally himself with the Kurds and the Sunnis in order to win the election. If Maliki's efforts succeed, this bloc could represent one of the first "credible and truly national coalitions." (Guardian)
Robert Dreyfuss argues that the January 2009 Iraqi elections showed the "resurgence of national secularism". He contends that through the elections Iraqis have shown a will to break away from ethno- sectarian politics that dominated Iraq's political scene since the US invasion in 2003. Dreyfuss says that by voting for Maliki, Iraqis are pressuring the Prime Minister to keep his promise and end the US occupation in favor of a united Iraqi front. (The Nation)
Due to displacement, tens of thousands of Iraqis were unable to cast their vote in the 2009 elections, which led to the lowest turnout since the US led invasion. Prime Minister al- Maliki leads the race. By voting for Maliki, many Iraqis hope to show a unified stance against the US occupation. (Alternet)
The first election in Iraq since 2005, to be held on January 30, 2009, might mark a turning point for the country. Some view the elections as a referendum for Prime Minister Maliki. This Agence Global article shows the variety of religious and political voices, including the four ruling parties, struggling for power in the war-torn country.
Support within Iraq for religious parties is diminishing in favor for more secular alternatives. This survey found that of those who intend to vote in the provincial elections scheduled for January 2009, independents were the most popular receiving 26.3 percent, followed by secular groups with 23.7 percent and religious parties with 22.7 percent. (Iraq AlAmal Association)
Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has refused to endorse a bi-lateral agreement that would legitimize a long-term US military presence in Iraq. The Prime Minister has consolidated his powers within the government as well as in relation to armed groups. Even Shiite leader Moqtada al-Sadr held back on attacks, strengthening al-Maliki's posture against the occupation. Under these new power relations, al-Maliki has become less dependent on the US government and has been able to influence the Status of Forces (SOFA) agreement by demanding a timetable for US military withdrawal. (Inter Press Service)
Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki promises that the US will never use Iraq as a platform to attack neighboring Iran. This surprising vow comes amid talks of a US-Iraqi agreement that will keep foreign troops in Iraq indefinitely. The improving relationship between the two Middle Eastern countries has troubled Washington for some time. The US claims that Iran trains militants for operations in Iraq and supplies rockets for attacks in central Baghdad. Iran denies these allegations, saying that Iraq's troubles are mostly due to US occupation. (Agence France Presse )
As a July 2008 deadline approaches for agreements between the governments in Washington and Baghdad, negotiations neglect to involve Iraqi parliamentarians. The Iraqi and US governments will negotiate the formulation of the Status of Forces agreement, which would legally allow US troops in Iraq, and the Strategic Framework Agreement, which would detail the economic, political and cultural relationship between the two countries. Iraqi lawmakers were also left out during the signing of the Declaration of Principles, an agreement which commits the US to defending Iraq from foreign threats; however, the Bush administration may seek to use it to attack Iran. (Inter Press Service)
In late November 2007, President Bush and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki entered into a Declaration of Principles for Future Cooperation. The pact claims to recognize the sacrifices made by "Iraqis and Americans for the sake of a free, democratic, pluralistic, federal and unified Iraq."It lays the basis for extended US presence in Iraq in political, economic and security spheres, including a preference for US companies in foreign investments. The pact suggests that the Iraqi government will request the extension of the MNF mandate for "a final time" and after this a bilateral agreement will dictate the relationship between the two countries.
US President George Bush and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki have entered into a nonbinding pact setting out the future relationship between the two countries. Commentators suggest the Declaration of Principles will replace the Multinational Force and set the basis for bilateral talks between the two countries in early 2008. The pact signals US intentions to remain in Iraq in the long term with influence in the "political, cultural, economic and security spheres.â€? For Iraqis the pact confirms US intentions to control Iraq's vast oil reserves, with provisions allowing for the "preferential treatment of American investments."(Daily Star- Lebanon)
A request for the extension of the Multi-National Force (MNF) mandate in Iraq will be sent to Iraqi parliament for consideration. According to Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zibari, the request will not be presented to the UN Security Council before the Iraqi parliament considers the request. This is in contrast to previous extension requests where Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has ignored legal requirements that parliament ratify any renewal. Meanwhile, the parliament debated the controversial draft accountability and justice law which would allow former Baathists to return to politics. (Alter Net)
In this article Spencer Ackerman suggests the "Joint Declaration of Principles for Friendship and Cooperation" between the US and Iraq reveals US intentions to occupy Iraq well into the future. The pact calls for a final extension of the multinational force (MNF) mandate until 2008 in which time a bilateral agreement will come into force. To Ackerman, such an agreement in Bush's last year as president will "seriously constrain the next administration's options for ending the US presence." The Bush administration claims this pact is not unlike other US agreements with over 100 countries, but unlike those agreements Ackerman argues this pact would commit US troops to a war "opposed by most of the American people." (TPM Muckracker)
In this letter to the Iraqi Parliament, 60 Iraqi Oil Professionals announce their support for the Ministry of Oil's decision to make illegal 15 production sharing agreements signed by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and foreign companies. The professionals agree with the blacklisting of the foreign companies in question. This letter follows similar warnings by the group in early 2007 that the negotiation and signing of oil contracts remain exclusively with the Ministry. The letter further asks that the draft oil law be approached with caution and that it be amended to ensure the rights of Iraqis. (After Downing Street)
Some political commentators claim the US military surge strategy contained the alleged al-Qaeda threat and reduced the level of violence to less than 600 attacks in October 2007, the lowest in two years. However, other analysts, including Marc Lynch, argue that General Petraeus' strategy to make deals with dominant Sunni leaders is leading to a "warlord state." Lynch says that the surge was "doomed from the start," as it did not involve a strategy of national reconciliation. The policy has further divided Iraqi politics with Sunni insurgents claiming they will turn their guns against the Shia led Maliki government once US troops start withdrawing. (Inter Press Service)
In this Inter Press Service
article, Thalif Deen reports on the renewal of the UN mandate of the multi-national force in Iraq. Deen cites a letter from Iraqi parliamentarians calling on the Security Council to refuse an extension of the mandate. The letter
which is signed by a majority of Iraq's parliament was not delivered to the Council as intended in April 2007 and was released early November 2007 by Global Policy Forum for the attention of Security Council members.
The Iraqi parliament has made several attempts to affirm its opposition against the renewal of the multinational force mandate in Iraq. However, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki under pressure from the US and UK is likely to request that the UN Security Council extend the mandate for another 12 months. According to the authors of this Alternet article the renewal debate exemplifies the political crisis between the nationalists who control parliament and the separatists who control the Cabinet. Despite the MNF renewal having major ramifications for political reconciliation in Iraq it is not covered in the mainstream US media. Instead conflict in the country is perceived as a "religious war" when in truth it is a conflict about the future of the country.
In late 2007, the UN Security Council will consider renewal of the mandate that authorizes the presence of the US-led multinational force (MNF) in Iraq. Global Policy Forum outlines the little-known demands of the Iraqi parliament to ratify any new agreement on the MNF. The Iraqi constitution requires the cabinet to submit such agreement for ratification and the parliament has already passed a law demanding conformity with this provision. A majority of parliamentarians also wrote a letter to Security Council members about the matter, calling for a timetable for MNF withdrawal. If Prime Minister al-Maliki again submits a request to the Security Council without parliamentary approval, a constitutional crisis in Iraq would surely follow. GPF argues that the Council should take into account the concerns of the parliament and of the great majority of the Iraqi people, so that a withdrawal plan can be set.
Robert Dreyfuss in The Nation explores the rise of political nationalism in Iraq as politics shift away from sectarianism. The author suggests that three factors promoting nationalism and opposition to the US presence in Iraq - the Senate non-binding resolution advocating for the partition of Iraq, the shooting of numerous civilians by the security firm Blackwater and the US pressure to privatize Iraq's oil industry. Political commentators see the emergence of the nationalist bloc, consisting of Shiite and Sunni factions, as a challenge to the US backed Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's government and the Kurdish and Shiite separatist blocs. According to the author, as long as the US suppresses nationalism and supports separatist policies, violence in Iraq will continue.
The executions of three former military officials under Saddam Hussein have been delayed. The senior officers including Ali Hassan al-Majid, also known as "Chemical Ali,"were sentenced to death for war crimes but remain in US custody despite the passing of a July 2007 deadline for execution. According to this New York Times article the fate of one officer, former Defense Minister Sultan Hashem Ahmed al-Jabouri al-Tai, has become an issue of reconciliation between Sunni and Shiite factions of government.
Two conferences on Iraq's oil were held simultaneously in September 2007. In Dubai, big international oil companies declare Iraq as "open for business," while in Basra, workers, experts and civil society leaders argue that the "oil belongs to the Iraqi people." The author of this Carbon Web Newsletter article suggests the meetings demonstrate the great divide between what Iraqis want and what the oil law will actually provide. Further, while the US claims the law will allow for political reconciliation, the author notes that the law barely mentions revenue sharing.
A US Senate resolution
which calls for the division of Iraq into separate regions receives widespread opposition in Iraq. However, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, a Kurd, has expressed support for the proposal and says the resolution does not undermine Iraqi unity. He also calls for a withdrawal of 100,000 US troops by the end of 2008 but suggests that three US bases remain in the country. (Voice of America
The US Senate endorses a resolution
sponsored by Democrat Senator Joseph R Biden Jr, partitioning Iraq into different federal regions. Although the resolution is non-binding, it signifies that US senators hope to divide Iraq along sectarian lines. Iraqis express disbelief at the resolution and argue that a divided Iraq would "complicate the security problem." (New York Times
The Iraq government will request that the UN Security Council renew the Multinational Force (MNF) when the mandate expires in December 2007. Iraq's deputy foreign minister indicates that the government will request a final one year renewal to be followed by a long-term bilateral security agreement. (New York Times)
In this AlterNet article, Joshua Holland and Raed Jarrar examine the reasons why Iraqi plans for peace are ignored by the mainstream media and the Coalition. Proposals from different Iraqi political parties include disbanding militias, providing for national reconciliation and rebuilding Iraqi government and security forces along non-sectarian lines. Ultimately all of the proposals call for a US withdrawal. However, according to the authors, the US prefers to follow a policy which involves permanent US bases, international control of Iraqi oil and where resistance is viewed as "sectarian violence."
The Bush administration defines the conflict in Iraq as a "religious civil war" with sectarian conflict between militants being the root cause of violence. In this significant Alternet article, Joshua Holland and Raed Jarrar argue that the struggle is due to political questions about Iraq's future, namely, whether Iraq will have a central government or partitioned regional governments, who will control Iraq's oil industry and the extent of foreign influence in the country. The authors indicate the religious civil war narrative obscures the fact that the US is not working towards political reconciliation in Iraq.
Iraqis express concern that religious clerics are influencing Iraqi politics, despite assurances by US President George Bush that Iraq would become a "secular and free country." Many Iraqi academics and community leaders are concerned that human rights and religious freedom are at risk as religious clerics take a prominent role in the Iraqi government. (Inter Press Service)
An agreement allowing former Ba'athists leaders to return to politics in Iraq has been reached between the Sunni led Iraqi Islamic party and Shiite and Kurdish leadership. The agreement calls for an end to the de-Ba'athification law and for the release of Sunni Arab detainees held without charge in US and Iraqi facilities. The agreement comes as rival wings of the Ba'athists party clash over the direction of the party including possible reconciliation efforts with the Iraqi government. Former Ba'athist leaders are skeptical that the agreement will achieve its objectives. (Radio Free Europe)
The Shiite cleric, Muqtada al-Sadr calls for a ceasefire in the activities of his Mehdi Army. A spokesperson for al-Sadr says the aim of the ceasefire is to "rehabilitate"rival factions and â€˜rogue' officers who Sadr blames for attacks on Sunni civilians and Iraqi government forces. Sadr also calls for an end to attacks by the militia on US and coalition troops. The ceasefire comes as fighting between rival Shiite factions culminates in gun battles in Karbala. (Los Angeles Times)
Two Kurdish parties, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan and the Kurdistan Democratic Party, as well as the Shia Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council and the Daawa Party formed a new coalition in the Iraqi government, favoring a federalist Iraq. Guido Steinberg of Spiegel Online International recognizes that a federalist Iraq may not work if the violence continues, but the alliance may prevent the Kurdish parties and the Shiite Supreme Council from seceding from the Iraqi state.
Shiite and Sunni members of the Iraqi government are putting pressure on Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to quit. Several ministers are boycotting official meetings or have resigned in protest against the Iraqi Prime Minister. Washington is concerned as it needs Nouri al-Maliki to maintain the majority in parliament in order to pass the US-backed oil law. (Boston Globe)
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki strongly opposes General David Petraeus' policy of recruiting alleged former Sunni insurgents to the security forces. Meanwhile, Petraeus and other US officials deplore the Iraq premier's ties to Shiite militias, including Muqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army. The tense relations between Maliki and the US military's top commander in Iraq indicate that "the strain of war often turns allies into uneasy partners."(Associated Press)
The Sunni-led Iraqi Accord Front and Sadrists propose to align with the Shia-led Fadhila Party and former Prime Minister Ayad Allawis' Iraqia bloc to form a Sunni-Shia secular opposition bloc. The alliance shares concerns over the failures by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to promote national unity and to consult Sunni parties in decisions. This comes as the prime minister attempts to form a moderate coalition of Shia, Kurdish and possible Sunni parties. The formation of these alliances reflects the power struggle taking place in the government and discredits the arguments that problems in Iraq stem from long-lasting sectarian rivalries. (Institute for War and Peace Reporting)
According to a binding resolution passed in Iraq in June 2007, the Iraqi parliament has the power to prevent the renewal of the UN mandate under which the MNF operate in the country. Iraqi politicians hope the resolution will prevent Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki from renewing the mandate in December 2007 without first consulting parliament. (AlterNet)
This diagram shows political configurations in the Iraqi parliament. A number of political blocs have now united across the previous sectarian political divisions. Some Shi'a, Sunni, secular, and other blocs have joined together in a new alliance. There are now two major tendencies: a majority (the "nationalist" tendency) and a minority (the sectarian or "separatist" tendency). The diagram shows all the political blocs in the parliament, with their place in the old (largely sectarian) structures and their place in the newer trans-sectarian alliances. The nationalists support a centralized government and a timetable for US withdrawal. The separatists favor a highly decentralized state, foreign oil company investments and an ongoing US presence in the country. Though the separatists are in the minority, they completely dominate the executive branch and are supported by the United States. (Raed Jarrar)
The majority of the Iraqi Parliament signed a petition demanding a US timetable for withdrawal. The document will be presented to the speaker of the Iraqi Parliament who, according to the country's law, must then put it to a vote. Such a move shows that politics are shifting in Iraq as Sunnis and Shias are putting aside their differences and uniting to stand against the occupation. This emerging group opposes the oil law and Maliki's government, while supporting an independent, sovereign and united Iraq. Although the US labels the nationalists as "extremist,"they have the support of most Iraqis, who oppose the occupation and see the nationalists as the best hope for reconciliation in Iraq. (AlterNet)
The Washington Post describes how the Shia majority government is arresting and removing police officers who "worked too aggressively to combat Shia militias."This perspective seems to echo Washington's increasing pressure on Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki for not meeting the US imposed benchmarks towards reconciliation. According to this piece, the Iraqi government claims that the officers were dismissed for legitimate reasons, but most of them were considered to be the best in the field and at least 9 out of 16 were Sunnis. While Maliki does not appear to have seriously engaged in disbanding the Shia militias and is heavily influenced by sectarian differences, the US has been attempting to absolve itself from blame for the failure in Iraq by attributing the problems entirely to the partiality of the Iraqi government.
This letter from members of the Iraqi Council of Representatives (parliament) argues that the UN Security Council should not renew the multinational force mandate in Iraq without an Iraqi request ratified by parliament. The letter affirms that it is "unconstitutional" for the Cabinet under Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to "unilaterally" request such a renewal. The letter also calls for a timetable for the withdrawal of the MNF. Dated April 28, 2007, the letter was apparently handed over to the UN in Baghdad, but never delivered to Security Council members. The 144 signatures represent an absolute majority of the 275 seats in the Iraqi Parliament. See letter in Arabic
. Also see The Iraqi Parliament and the UN Security Council: Questions About Renewal of the MNF Mandate
. (Iraqi Parliamentarians
Six members of the Iraqi Cabinet, loyal to the nationalist Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, left the government to protest Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's support of the US occupation. According to the Sadrist politicians, "Maliki is ignoring the will of the people over the issue of a timed American withdrawal."Many Shias also see the US as manipulating Iraqi politics in order to prevent them from gaining real power. The departure of al-Sadr representatives could destabilize Maliki's government, which depends on the Shia majority in the Parliament. Further, this episode reflects the increasing discontent with the US occupation among Iraqis. (Independent)
Since the beginning of the US occupation, the CIA has supported and funded the Iraqi National Intelligence Service, putting its longtime Sunni "asset", Mohammed Abdullah Shahwani, at the helm of the organization. According to a US military official, "US funding for the Iraqi National Intelligence Service amounted to US$3 billion over a three-year period that started in 2004."However, Shia politicians said they do not trust this agency and the Shia Minister of State for National Security Sherwan Waili created a new secret service that has an estimated 1,200 staff all over the country. (Los Angeles Times)
This United Press International article warns of the fragile security situation in the city of Basra, in the heart of Iraq's main oil producing area. Two opposing Shia groups have clashed violently. Moqtada al-Sadr's party and the Fadila Party are battling over control of the city, as well as influence over the central government in Baghdad and the oil industry. The battles over the Iraq's Oil Ministry could destabilize the government. Further, these rivalries could lead to disruption of the oil sector, threatening Iraq's most important source of revenue.
Two Iraqi politicians were killed and fifteen were injured during an explosion at the cafeteria attached to the Iraqi Parliament building, inside the Green Zone. This Huffington Post article reveals that all the parliamentarians killed or injured were part of the Nationalist Movement, which opposes Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's government and supports a US withdrawal. Further, in a strange coincidence, these politicians were against the privatization of Iraq's oil and the new hydrocarbon law that was about to be debated in the Iraqi Parliament.
In a speech at the annual summit of the Arab League, the Saudi King Abdullah, a close US ally, criticized the Iraq War and called it for the first time "an illegitimate foreign occupation."Further, he criticized the US interference in Arab affairs and said that Arab nations should be able to decide the future of the region. Arab foreign ministers also supported an amendment of the Iraqi constitution, which would give Sunnis more power and bring about national reconciliation. (Agence France Presse)
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and President Jalal Talabani have approved a draft law, which allows former members of the Baath Party to return to the government. After the US invasion of Iraq, the Bush administration launched a "de-baathifiication"campaign, and according to Alaa Makki, a Sunni lawmaker, "a lot of people were wrongly punished."This drew widespread criticism from Sunnis, many of whom joined the insurgency against the Iraqi government and US forces. The law, if approved by the Iraqi Parliament, could help bring about national reconciliation. (Washington Post)
This Asia Times article questions the concept of terrorism, showing that groups in Iraq are labeled terrorists depending on political interests. The US threatens to withdraw its support of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's government if it does not bring stability to Iraq. However, Maliki does not appear to seriously engage in disbanding militias, as he opposes Sunni militias while he tolerates the Shia Mahdi Army and Badr organization. The US has also been pursuing a contradictory policy in Iraq, claiming to fight terrorism, yet supporting the pro-US Kurdish militias that operate against Turkey in the north of the country.
Opposition in Iraq against the elected political leaders is growing as the Iraqi government has been unable to improve the security situation, reconstruct the country and address Iraqis' basic needs. According to Mohammad Jaafar, a former Iraqi politician, "the Iraqis feel lost amongst too many political currents that blew their country away with their narrow sectarian and personal interests."Further, many Iraqis are starting to look to local political leadership hoping they can solve the country chaotic situation, but the chief tribes refuse to participate in any solution under occupation. (Inter Press Service)
"Separatist"groups, which endorse the partitioning of Iraq and resist calls for a US withdrawal timetable, make up a significant part of the countryâ€™s government. Using "a number of loopholes and unconstitutional decisions,"this US-backed government has repeatedly tried to sidestep the Iraqi Parliament on key issues such as the proposed hydrocarbon law. Author Raed Jarrar illustrates that tensions among Iraqis stem primarily from political and not religious or sectarian differences, as the Bush administration and even some mainstream media emphasize. (Regional Center on Conflict Prevention
The Associated Press has provided an English translation of the Iraqi constitution. On October 15, Iraq held a constitutional referendum on whether or not to accept the document. After reviewing the process, the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq confirmed the election results and the contititution was approved.
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has compiled a list of major political groups participating in Iraq's December 15 parliamentary elections. Included are brief descriptions of each group along with each party's leader.