Shiites, Sunnis Eye Interior, Defense Portfolios

The key interior and defense portfolios in the new Iraqi cabinet are proving a bone of contention between Shiites and Sunnis already disgruntled at the unofficial and near-complete results of the recent legislative elections.

Shiites, Sunnis Eye Interior, Defense Portfolios

Sources close to the outgoing Iraqi government told on Monday, December 26, that the two ministries would likely go to Sunnis "to dispel their fears, encourage them to be an active player on the political landscape and accept election results."

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the sources said the Americans "are pressing for Sunnis to assume these two portfolios as they do not have militias unlike the Shiites."

The Shiites command two large militia, the Supreme Council of Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI)-linked Badr forces and the Mahdi Army, loyal to young Shiite leader Moqtada Al-Sadr.

US Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad has asked Iraqi leaders to set aside the two ministries for parties which do not have militias.

Last week, he issued a stark warning to Iraq's Interior Minister Bayan Jabr Solagh, a former Shiite militia member, over the importance of impartiality.

"You can't have someone regarded as sectarian as a minister of the interior," asserted the US diplomat.

On December 13, Khalilzad criticized the ministry over the discovery of two secret detention facilities where predominantly Sunni detainees were tortured.

Sunni scholars and leaders have been complaining of crackdown on their community by the interior ministry, charging that thousands of Badr forces had joined the police ranks and were involved in torture and indiscriminate arrests of Sunnis.

The debate over Soulagh's sectarian bias has recently worsened with the discovery of some 170 prisoners in an interior ministry bunker, mostly Sunni Arabs, many were malnourished and showed signs of torture.

"Curbing UIA"

Ali Al-Addad, a member of the ruling United Iraqi Alliance, charged that the US wanted to curb his Shiite alliance.

"The vote rigging claims and rejection of election results by some powers are a bid to press the triumphant UIA into giving up the interior and defense ministries," Al-Addad told the London-based daily Al-Hayat on Sunday, December 25.

"The United States is making use of election rejectionists to put a curb on the UIA."

Addad, who is also a leading SCIRI member, said the Americans are trying hard to strip the ruling UIA of these two ministries.

The unofficial election results suggested that the UIA did better than expected in some key areas of the country, notably Baghdad where they took 59 percent of the vote to just 19 percent for their nearest Sunni rivals.

The capital was a key prize in the election, accounting for around a quarter of the electorate.

In response, some 35 Sunni and secular parties said the results were fixed and the commission which organized the election was biased.

They called for a fresh vote, backing up their demand with mass demonstrations in several cities on Friday, December 23.

The National Concord Front (NCF), the main Sunni coalition, stressed it was seeking a halfway house, dismissing the possibility of quitting politics.

On Sunday, NCF leader Adnan Al-Dulaimi dismissed as "groundless" reports that they decided during a meeting in Amman with former prime minister Iyad Allawi to boycott the government in the making and the political process.

Prominent Sunni politician Saleh Al-Mutlaq, the leader of the Iraqi Front for National Dialogue, which captured 10 seats according to the leaked results, also opted for dialogue as the only way to sort out differences and form a coalition government.

He, however, said Sunnis should be compensated for the "injustice" done to them during the "rigged" elections.

The latest leaks from the Independent Election Commission indicate that no coalition has won the necessary quota (half plus one) of the 275-seat parliament to form a government, which means the rivals have no option but to form a coalition cabinet.

Sunni Arabs had largely boycotted elections for a transitional parliament in January but a large turnout on Thursday, December 15, signaled their willingness to maximize their representation in the new government.

Source: Ýslam

Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16