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Defying Western Media, Iraq Parliament Opens

So let’s see. Here is something our one party media told us could never been done. And it’s been less than three years since the Iraq War began.

From a very disappointed Associated Press:

Shi’ite leader Adbul-Aziz al-Hakim (C) talks with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani as Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari (R) looks on before the start of the opening session of the parliament in Baghdad March 16, 2006.

Iraq’s New Parliament Is Sworn In

By QASSIM ABDUL-ZAHRA, Associated Press Writers

BAGHDAD, Iraq – Iraq’s new parliament was sworn in Thursday, with parties still deadlocked over the next government, vehicles banned from Baghdad’s streets to prevent car bombings and the country under the shadow of a feared civil war.

The long-expected first session, which took place within days of the third anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion, lasted just over 30 minutes and was adjourned indefinitely because the legislature still has no speaker.

Adnan Pachachi, the senior politician who administered the oath in the absence of a speaker, spoke of a country in crisis.

"We have to prove to the world that a civil war is not and will not take place among our people," Pachachi told lawmakers. "The danger is still looming and the enemies are ready for us because they do not like to see a united, strong, stable Iraq."

As Pachachi spoke, he was interrupted from the floor by senior Shiite leader Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim, who said the remarks were inappropriate because of their political nature.

Even the oath was a source of disagreement, with the head of the committee that drafted the country’s new constitution, Humam Hammoudi, protesting that lawmakers had strayed from the text. After brief consultations, judicial officials agreed the wording was acceptable.

Meanwhile, a top Iranian official said his country was ready to open direct talks with the United States over Iraq, marking a major shift in foreign policy a day after al-Hakim called for such talks.

Ali Larijani, Iran’s top nuclear negotiator and secretary of the country’s Supreme National Security Council, told reporters that any talks between the United States and Iran would deal only with Iraqi issues.

"To resolve Iraqi issues and help establishment of an independent and free government in Iraq, we agree to (talks with the United States)," Larijani said after a closed meeting of the parliament Thursday.

Larijani said the U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, also had invited Iran for talks on Iraq.

Washington, which repeatedly has accused Iran of meddling in Iraq’s affairs and of sending weapons and men to help insurgents in Iraq, had no immediate response.

The statement marked the first time since the 1979 Islamic Revolution that Iran had officially called for dialogue with the United States.

A pianist played as representatives of Iraq’s main ethnic and religious blocs — many in traditional Arab and Kurdish dress — filed into a convention center behind the concrete blast walls of the heavily fortified Green Zone for parliament’s first meeting.

Hours after the session adjourned, two mortar shells were fired into the Green Zone, al-Mohammedawi said. No casualties were reported.

The inaugural session started the clock on a 60-day period in which parliament must elect a president and approve a prime minister and Cabinet.

Acting Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari was optimistic. "If politicians work seriously, we can have a government within a month," he said.

Al-Jaafari’s candidacy for a second term as prime minister is at the center of the political logjam that delayed parliament’s first session for more than a month after the results of Dec. 15 elections were approved.

There was little sign of progress after a second full day of meetings Wednesday among leaders of the major political blocs. The U.S. ambassador brokered the sessions.

"I expect that there still will be difficulties over choosing the prime minister," said Mahmoud Othman, a Kurdish politician who attended Wednesday’s session.

Under the constitution, the largest parliamentary bloc, controlled by Shiites, has the right to nominate the prime minister. Al-Jaafari won the Shiite nomination by a single vote last month.

Politicians involved in the negotiations have said part of the Shiite bloc, those aligned with al-Hakim, would like to see al-Jaafari ousted but fear the consequences, given his backing from radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and al-Sadr’s thousands-strong Mahdi Army.

Sunni, Kurdish and some secular Shiites argue al-Jaafari is too divisive and accuse him of not doing enough to contain waves of revenge killing after bombers destroyed an important Shiite shrine on Feb. 22 and ripped apart teeming markets in an al-Sadr stronghold in Baghdad on Sunday…

"Hey, dude, where’s my civil war?"

This article was posted by Steve on Thursday, March 16th, 2006. Comments are currently closed.

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