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Iraqi unity more important than al-Maliki – Sadr | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Baghdad/ Erbil, Asharq Al-Awsat – Iraqiya bloc MP Muhammad al-Khalidi has denied that “the speaker of the parliament, Osama al-Nujayfi, plans to call on the parliament to holsa special session on withdrawing confidence from Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki”.

In response to a number of parliamentary and political statements about the possibility of holding an emergency session of parliament before the end of the current legislative recess – which ends on the 18th June – al-Khalidi told Asharq al-Awsat that “the matter as a whole rests with President Jalal Talabani, who is still waiting to amass sufficient support”. Al-Khalidi added that “the process of collecting signatures is not yet complete, meetings are ongoing, and the issue of determining a timeframe for such a session is the President’s decision”.

In response to a question about whether the Iraqiya movement is still insistent upon embarking on the procedures of withdrawing confidence, or if there has been a retraction in its position, al-Khalidi said: “there has been no retraction in this regard, Iraqiya’s position is consistent with the positions of the other partners involved, with regards to the withdrawal of confidence from the Prime Minister”.

For his part, leader of the Sadr movement, Moqtada al-Sadr stressed that the unity of Iraq is more important than an individual personality such as al-Maliki. According to a statement issued by his office yesterday, responding to a call from the head of the Basra provincial council to other governors and provincial leaders, threatening to declare an autonomous southern province if the vote of no confidence in al-Maliki fails to garner the required support, al-Sadr said that “the unity of Iraq is more important than an individual like al-Maliki, let him understand that”.

In the same vein, al-Sadr believes that the issue of withdrawing confidence from the government would be a “victory for the oppressed people, not a war of politics against parliament”. In response to a question posed by one of his followers, regarding the intention of the Sadrist trend to march in Najaf province, thus highlighting al-Sadr’s demands for reform, al-Sadr said: “peace be upon my friends and supporters, and I thank them, but in these days and at this stage they must maintain calm and united, and distance themselves from escalation. These days, a demonstration is not the right thing to do, love and obedience [to Iraq] is enough… In my understanding, spreading such rumors would only aim to destabilize security and safety in Najaf and other provinces”.

He added that “some believe that the act of withdrawing confidence is a war; a war of politics against parliament. I do not want the people to be dragged in to this from near and far, because that affects the public interest. Thus, [my message is] go about your business as usual, whether you are state officials and security officers, or merchants and businessmen. The withdrawal of confidence represents a victory and for the oppressed and the weak”. Al-Sadr continued: “If some want to turn our project into something that frightens the people or drags them into sectarian affairs, I reject this. We want to withdraw confidence in order to pressure the government to carry out the comprehensive reforms it has rejected. Any [proposal] that does not constitute reform, such as holding demonstrations, leaving jobs or businesses, or intimidating others, is an invalid approach and not beneficial. Know that this is not a war, this is a reform project”.

For his part, Ammar al-Hakim, leader of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, renewed his call for political parties to engage in an open dialogue and put forth their problems in a national gathering for all concerned. Al-Hakim warned against what he called “a policy of twisting the arm, and imposing one party’s will against another, because we cannot reach a mutual result”.

In this context, Iraqi MP Furat al-Shara told Asharq al-Awsat that “calls for dialogue are still possible, especially considering the difficulty that parties in favor of withdrawing confidence are facing in terms of gathering adequate votes”.

Al-Shara said that: “In politics, everything is possible, and thus although we are living in a time of serious political crisis, there are those who still believe that a return to the negotiation table – in accordance with the constitution and provided that the political agreements are reviewed in full – is the correct way to resolve the crisis”. Here he referred to “a conviction that is beginning to take hold even among those calling for a withdrawal of confidence, namely that this procedure could lead the country towards further political upheavals”. He stressed that “the Muaten [Citizen] bloc – loyal to the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq – continues to play a key role in the current debate”, calling for the State of Law coalition to “involve everyone in political dialogue and resolve the outstanding governmental problems, so we can build a state on the correct foundations”.