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Iraqi parliament session collapses amid political standoff DinarDailyUpdates?bg=330099&fg=FFFFFF&anim=1

Iraqi parliament session collapses amid political standoff

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Iraqi parliament session collapses amid political standoff Empty Iraqi parliament session collapses amid political standoff

Post by Kevind53 Tue Jul 01, 2014 10:31 pm

Iraqi parliament session collapses amid political standoff Shia, Sunni and Kurd politicians fail to begin process of electing new leaders, as UN reveals death toll since Isis insurgency

Martin Chulov in Baghdad The Guardian, Tuesday 1 July 2014 08.13 EDT

Iraq's apparently irreconcilable politicians have failed to start a process to elect new leaders, lurching the country ever closer to partition and defying desperate calls for unity from regional and global powers.

The much-anticipated session of the country's parliament started on Tuesday with enough members in attendance to ensure the nomination of a speaker would go ahead. However, the meeting quickly descended into farce, with Sunnis and Kurds using an unscheduled recess to withdraw their legislators, ensuring the session collapsed.

Both blocs insisted that Shia politicians name their candidate for prime minister before they revealed their own nominations for speaker. By convention in Iraq, the prime minister's position goes to the Shia, the speaker's position goes to the Sunnis, while the president goes to the Kurds.

The standoff underscored the deep divisions that run through the fragile state's political class, which has been unable to find unity even as a raging insurgency poses an imminent threat to Iraq's stability.

Hours before parliament met, the leader of the autonomous Kurdish Regional Government, Massoud Barzani, said Iraq was already "effectively partitioned".

Barzani told the BBC he would hold a referendum on independence for the Kurds within months, a move that, if carried out, would spell the end of the modern state of Iraq and probably inflame the surrounding region.

"Everything that's happened recently shows that it's the right of Kurdistan to achieve independence," Barzani said. "From now on, we won't hide that that's our goal. Iraq is effectively partitioned now. Are we supposed to stay in this tragic situation the country's living? It's not me who will decide on independence. It's the people. We'll hold a referendum and it's a matter of months."

The enmity between Kurdish MPs and legislators aligned with the beleaguered prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, flared quickly in the brief parliamentary session, with a Maliki MP angrily remonstrating with a Kurdish counterpart over demands that salaries which had been frozen by Baghdad be paid.

"Those who tear down the Iraqi flag, we will crush with our shoes," the Maliki MP shouted.

Across nearly all of northern Iraq, the national flag is no longer flying. The Kurds have raised their own banner above all former central government buildings in Kirkuk, which their forces took as the Iraqi army fled from the jihadist group Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Isis) two weeks ago. In Iraq's west, and some of its centre, Isis has commandeered all government buildings and at least three cities.

Baghdad is caught in a pincer movement between the Kurds and Isis, which have no interest in the state. The Kurds, who have long been cautious about their ambitions for sovereignty, are increasingly acting without restraint as central authority crumbles.

Isis meanwhile has been taunting the Shia-majority central government with claims it is imposing a caliphate across a vast tract of land from Aleppo in Syria to Diyala, north-east of Baghdad. The announcement has no practical significance, but shows the potent rise of the jihadist group, and the impotence of Iraq's government in dealing with it.

Further emphasising the scale of the crisis were death toll figures released by the United Nations on Tuesday, revealing a spike in violence across Iraq in June. The toll of at least 2,417 Iraqis killed and 2,287 wounded in "acts of violence and terrorism" was the highest since April 2007.

"The staggering number of civilian casualties in one month points to the urgent need for all to ensure that civilians are protected," said Nickolay Mladenov, the special representative of the UN secretary general for Iraq.

Prior to Tuesday's parliamentary session, leaders from the Shia National Alliance list had been backing away from Maliki, who wants to win a third term as leader. "There is agreement that a less polarising figure emerge," one Shia MP said.

However, Kurdish and Sunni blocs, estranged by the actions of the Iraqi leader for at least the past three years, say they do not trust the Shias to nominate a replacement who would not share Maliki's stance or follow his policies.

Western diplomats in Baghdad fear that Iraq faces near-certain collapse unless politicians from all sides can be convinced that their interests are best served by remaining under central control.

One senior official suggested this week that the political standoff could fester for another six months, during which time the country would have no effective leadership.

Parliament is due to meet again on 8 July after another pivotal week of horse-trading within political blocs. Governments in post-Saddam Iraq are traditionally cobbled together after many months of standoffs. However both allies and foes inside Iraq and across the region have insisted that leaders do not have the luxury of time if they want to save the country with its current borders.

The relentless Isis insurgency has galvanised parts of the Sunni street and exposed the fragility of the state in its current form, leaving many in Baghdad believing that the crisis is already past the point of no return.

A break-up of Iraq would have widespread implications for the entire region. Syria and Lebanon, both of which are a mix of sects and ethnicities, would be especially vulnerable to fallout.

Isis has a presence in both countries, particularly Syria, and has said repeatedly that it aims to break down the Levant borders enshrined by France and Britain after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire.
Immigration call

Isis leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has called for Muslims across the world to immigrate to the section of Syria and Iraq that his group now claims as an Islamic caliphate. The call is the first sign that the jihadist group aims to make its attempts to restore a caliphate more than a symbolic challenge to the Syrian and Iraqi governments.

In a recording released yesterday, a voice, thought to be Baghdadi's, urged judges and administrators to "answer the dire need of Muslims". Flush with the spoils of its rout of the Iraqi army, Isis is moving to consolidate itself in eastern Syria and western Iraq.

Isis paraded a ballistic missile, believed to be a Scud, through the streets of Raqaa in eastern Syria on Monday. The missile had not been seen since it was reportedly seized after Isis overran the site of a former nuclear reactor in the nearby city of Deir Azzor. The missile is not thought to be working order.


Trust but Verify --- R Reagan Suspect

"Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."1 Thessalonians 5:14–18

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