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Sectarianism Root Cause of Iraq's Political Impasse- Al-Iraqiya Spokeswoman - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Iraqi parliament caretaker speaker Fouad Massum announces postponing indefinitely what would have been only the parliament's second session since the March election, in Baghdad. (AFP)

Iraqi parliament caretaker speaker Fouad Massum announces postponing indefinitely what would have been only the parliament’s second session since the March election, in Baghdad. (AFP)

London, Asharq Al-Awsat- The spokeswoman for the Al-Iraqiya coalition has stated that” current talks between the political blocs have not resulted in a resolution to the main problem of forming the next government, the problem of naming a prime minister.” she emphasized that : “The root cause of the problem is sectarian rather than political or national.”

Al-Iraqiya spokeswoman Maysun al-Damluji said: “Others view the Al-Iraqiya as a Sunni coalition. The talk has now shifted toward confessional right as a substitute for the constitutional right.” Supporting this view, a leading figure in the Iraqi National Alliance warned: “The talk about the so-called confessional right is dangerous. It will lead the country to the abyss.”

Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat from Baghdad by telephone, Maysun al-Damluji stressed that: “The Al-Iraqiya insists on its right to form the next Iraqi government because it came first in the legislative elections. This right belongs to the Iraqis who voted for the [Al-Iraqiya] List’s program that calls for introducing a change and building a state of institution that will respect the Iraqi citizens, protect their rights, and provide services to them.”

She added: “The List also calls for allowing competent Iraqis to play their role in building their country, establishing a state that respects the judiciary without politicizing it and establishing armed and security forces that will provide stability for the Iraqis. This is in addition to the constitution’s provision on the peaceful rotation of power.”

She dismissed any “reports indicating that the Al-Iraqiya gave up its right to form a government.” She asserted: “The Al-Iraqiya leaders insist on nominating the List leader, Allawi, to head the next government.”

The spokeswoman said: “The problem that faces the political process is that our coalition is not given its right to form a government. Sectarian obstacles stand in the way of the List’s leader to assume the post of prime minister.”

She added: “The others have no objection to the person of Dr Allawi. However, they view him as the leader of a Sunni list. This contradicts the facts because Shiites, Sunnis, Christians, Turkomans, and Kurds are members of the Iraqi List, which was elected by Iraqis from all religious, confessional, national, and political groups.”

The spokeswoman expressed her astonishment at current proposals on “the (Shiite) confessional right, as a substitute for the constitutional right.”

She said: “There is no such thing as confessional right in the Iraqi constitution and laws or in the Iraqi society. They insist that the post of prime minister must be limited to the two (Shiite) coalitions, the State of Law Coalition and Iraqi National Alliance. They want to give our list the rights that were [previously] given to the Sunni Al-Tawafuq Front.”

She emphasized: “The Al-Iraqiya Coalition refuses to be looked at from a sectarian perspective, because we renounce sectarianism and sectarian quotas and refuse to participate in a government that proceeds from sectarian considerations.”

With regard to statements made by members of the State of Law Coalition and the Iraqi National Alliance that both groups are close to the Al-Iraqiya, the official spokeswoman for the Al-Iraqiya expressed her concern “that these statements might be exchanged messages between the two groups to pressure each other using Al-Iraqiya as a pretext.”

She asked: “If they are close to Al-Iraqiya to the point that they talked about, why do they not agree with it to set up an alliance that would grant Allawi the right to form a government?”

She asserted: “Al-Iraqiya wants to form a government fast to put an end to the suffering of the citizens who took the risks and cast their votes in the elections. The results were announced more than three months ago, but no government has been formed. For our part, we work on the grounds that the current outgoing government is a caretaker one.”

She cautioned: “If the situation remains unchanged, the Iraq issue will certainly be referred to the United Nations on the fourth of the next month, and the Iraqi issue will be internationalized. This is especially true in light of the fact that Iraq is subject to Chapter Seven of the United Nations charter.”

For his part, a leading figure in the Iraqi National Alliance supported Maysun al-Damluji’s statements. He said: “It is truly a serious development to talk about confessional rights, excluding the constitutional rights.”

He added: “The insistence on rejecting a move for Allawi to head the next government is prompted by regional and confessional pressures. Allawi is not rejected as a person, and he is acceptable to the Shiites. However, the problem lies in the fact that he heads a Sunni list, amid insistence that the prime minister be from one of the two Shiite coalitions.”

The leading figure in the Iraqi National Alliance, who chose not to give his name, said: “The National Alliance, which is supposed to include the Iraqi National Alliance and the State of Law Coalition, is about to collapse. Our Alliance holds more talks with Al-Iraqiya than with the State of Law Coalition, and the reason for this is the insistence by the brothers in the State of Law Coalition to nominate Al-Maliki to head the government.”

He added: “I believe that there is no prospect for the continuation of the National Alliance, particularly after the Iraqi National Alliance officially objected to Al-Maliki remaining as prime minister and after the Al-Sadr Trend Leader Muqtada al-Sadr refused to nominate the leader of the State of Law Coalition for the post of prime minister. Al-Sadr’s stand contradicts some media reports that he came under Iranian pressure that prompted him to agree for Al-Maliki to remain in his post. However, the Al-Sadr Trend leader’s statements in Damascus completely dismissed these reports.”

The leading figure in the Iraqi National Alliance warned: “Today, all avenues seem to be closed to all parties. The Al-Iraqiya, which should have been designated to form a government because it won the elections, has been deprived of this right, and the State of Law Coalition insists on Al-Maliki remaining in his post. For its part, the Iraqi National Alliance believes that an independent person should be named as a compromise candidate to head the government, at a time when the Kurds expect the talks to result in the establishment of alliances so that they may join the largest alliance.”

He added: “Thus, we appear to be moving in a vicious circle that will have serious consequences and lead the country to the abyss.”

He acknowledged the existence of “regional and international interventions, particularly by Iran and the US Administration.” However, he blamed “the Iraqi political forces, which could not reach national solutions to the government problem.” He said: “This problem will lead to the internationalization of the Iraqi issue. This serves as evidence of the failure of the political forces to take the right decision on the issues of the country.”

He added: “In addition to the regional, especially Iranian, and international interventions, there is the confessional (sectarian) element, which is one of the important reasons behind the delay in the political process toward forming a government.”

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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