Iraq talks polls as Iran contacts Kurdish leaders
Prime Minister al-Maliki (L), Iraqi President Talabani and Kurdish regional President Barzani (R) speak at a press conference in Sulaimaniyah in this file photo.Political turmoil in Iraq continues to flare over a standoff sparked by the arrest warrant for the country’s Sunni Arab Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi.
After the political party loyal to radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr called for the dissolution of Iraq’s Parliament and new elections, Iyad Allawi, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s predecessor and head of the Sunni-backed Iraqiya bloc, said there were talks for early elections among different blocs.
“There is a kind of agreement among the different political parties in Iraq to organize early elections in order to avoid further complication due to the current political crisis in the country,” Allawi said in an interview with Dubai-based Al-Arabiya expected to be aired late yesterday. Bahaa al-Araji, the head of the al-Sadr bloc in Parliament, a partner in al-Maliki’s Shiite-dominated government, said Dec. 26 the elections were needed because of the country’s instability and problems that threaten Iraq’s sovereignty. Members of the Iraqiya and the Sadrist movements are both part of al-Maliki’s Shiite-led national unity government, with each controlling multiple ministerial posts.
Mediation efforts from Iran
The new political crisis has been accompanied by a new wave of attacks that killed 69 people. A group related to al-Qaeda in Iraq has claimed responsibility for the wave of attacks, the Associated Press reported. Iraq’s Parliament Speaker Osama al-Nujaifi also arrived in Sulaymaniyah in an attempt to mediate the political crisis. Meanwhile, Iraqi political blocs have held talks with Iran over the crisis, officials said yesterday.
Multiple parties’ representatives have spoken to top officials in Tehran, according to senior political sources in Baghdad and the autonomous Kurdish region, where al-Hashimi is currently hiding. “Iraqi parties are contacting Iran to mediate the al-Hashimi issue,” an official close to al-Maliki said, speaking on the condition of anonymity. Three Kurdish political sources belonging to parties in the ruling Kurdistan alliance said a senior Iranian delegation met with Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) leader Masoud Barzani and Iraqi President Jalal Talabani in recent days to discuss al-Hashimi’s arrest warrant, Agence France-Presse reported. The delegation, which included senior officials from the Iranian intelligence service and army, was headed by Sardar Majidi, deputy chief of the Quds Force of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard, according to sources who did not want to be named.
They said the delegation pushed for a meeting of senior political leaders, but al-Maliki refused to attend any meeting held in Arbil, the capital of Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdish region, and Barzani declined to join talks in Baghdad. The official close to al-Maliki confirmed the premier would not attend any political meeting outside of Baghdad.