Baghdad, Asharq Al-Awsat- Hoshyar Zebari, Iraqi foreign minister and member of the Kurdistan Coalition, expected an imminent agreement on the formation of the new government and its announcement as scheduled in light of what he termed “the positive climate” that prevailed the talks among the basic parliamentary blocs.
In a statement to Asharq al-Awsat in Baghdad, Zebari said that the new government “will be formed soon due to the positive climate that permeated the current talks, despite the desire by all parties to secure as many posts as possible, which we consider normal and Iraqis should not consider strange.”
According to Zebari, “The aim of the talks is to come out with a viable and honorable cabinet formation that reflects the representation of all the parliamentary blocs so that it will be strong and capable of assuming its responsibilities and leading the country to the shore of safety.”
Zebari denied that the Kurdistan alliance has asked more than its dues and said “All the brothers in the other blocs heard our demands and opinions, as well as our stand in this respect. The Kurds did not ask more than their natural and legitimate rights through their representation and weight in the House of Representatives.” The Iraqi minister explained that his list was in disagreement with the Unified Iraqi Coalition list on the procedure of assigning points for positions. He said, “This is an unfair and non-objective procedure. It is unfair to the Kurds. It may be beneficial to them, but not to us.”
Regarding their demands in the upcoming cabinet formation, Zebari added, “We demanded a key ministry, the post of deputy prime minister, and some service ministries according to our rights and the size of our parliamentary representation. There has been confusion in the classification of some ministries. The Ministry of Planning is not a key ministry. I don’t know where they got this innovation. It is a major service ministry in the country.”
Regarding his meeting with the Iranian ambassador in Baghdad and the talks he had with him on the recent developments on the border areas between the two countries, Zebari said: “We assured the Iranian ambassador that the border violations must be tackled through sound government and diplomatic channels. We want to behave like a state and a government that respects itself, and not as opposition issuing statements, slogans, and other things. Therefore, we had talks and clarifications with the Iranian and Turkish governments on these questions and violations.” He affirmed that once an agreement is reached through this dialogue, Iraq will adopt a supportive stand “but the dialogue must be given its full diplomatic extent in order to reach positive results.”
In Karbala, Sheikh Abdul -Mahdi al-Karbalai, representative of the great Shiite authority, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, said in the Friday sermon at Imam al-Hussein shrine in Karbala, some 100 km south of Baghdad, yesterday that “all the political blocs and all the parties concerned must cooperate in order to form the Iraqi Government as quickly as possible,” according to AFP.
Al-Karbalai expressed the hope that the upcoming government would “get the country out of its strong crises and sufferings, headed by the numerous criminal operations that affect innocent people, including the killing and forcible deportation of families to the extent that camps have become part of the reality of the daily life for Iraqis.”
Al-Sistani’s representative in Karabla affirmed “the need to consider the specifications set by Al-Sistani in choosing members of the future government, including competence, high academic and administrative qualifications, fairness, and good reputation.”
Al-Karbalai criticized the performance of the previous government, saying “most of its members sought their personal interests at the expense of the country’s interests.”
Regarding the handling of the bad security conditions, Al-Karbalai said: “The solution of the security problem lies in building Iraqi security forces, whose sole concern is to ensure security for Iraqis and loyalty to the country and not to the political community or party they belong so that it will be possible to restore full sovereignty to Iraq in all fields. He referred to “certain political quarters that tamper with the country’s sovereignty for the sake of their interests.”
Al-Karbalai warned that “any failure of the new government will reflect negatively on the Iraqi people, and the first to be harmed will be the political forces that pose an obstacle to the government’s fulfillment of its duties.”
On the other hand, Sheikh Mahmud al-Sumayda’i (Sunni) said in his Friday sermon in Umm al-Qura mosque in Baghdad: “We ask the government or the leaders of the political blocs to form the government as quickly as possible,” according to AFP also.
Addressing Iraqi political leaders, Al-Sumayda’i said: “Establish your state and government as quickly as possible. The Iraqis are waiting for the ones who will save them from killing on the basis of the identity and the sect.”
Al-Sumayda’i criticized the performance of the present government, saying: “Today’s rulers did not fear God in their world, states, and peoples. Each one of them wants a quota and a status, while the nation is being killed. It is as if the matter does not concern anyone.”