Maliki, Talabani, Allawi (l to r) at the Irbil meeting
Source: Agence France Presse
On Monday November 8, 2010 all of Iraq’s major political leaders including Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, Iraqi National Movement head Iyad Allawi, Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) President Massoud Barzani, and Iraqi President Jalal Talabani met face to face in the Kurdish capital of Irbil. The day before, government spokesman Ali Dabbagh, who is a member of State of Law, claimed that Maliki and Allawi would formally announce a power sharing agreement at the conference. Instead, the party heads met for 90-minutes, talked with the press, and then departed. All the same people are due to talk again on November 9 in Baghdad.
Despite the failure to come to an agreement, Iraqi politics has progressed. When Moqtada al-Sadr decided to back Maliki at the beginning of October, it basically assured his return to the premiership. Since then the Kurds and the Fadhila Party have openly and tacitly come out for Maliki as well. The main sticking point now is getting Allawi’s list to join a national unity government. KRG President Barzani has been pushing for a round table meeting of 8-12 representatives of the major lists to resolve their outstanding issues, and they have come up with three draft papers on a national security council, a national unity government, and the control and reorganization of the security forces.
The main sticking point now appears to be the division of the major posts. State of Law and the Kurds have been offering Maliki as prime minister, Talabani as president and Allawi or someone from his list as speaker of parliament. Members of the National Movement however have brought up Allawi as president as an alternative. This is something supported by the U.S. and Turkey. Some in the National Movement believe that the presidency is a more prominent position, and that it can be a counter to Maliki as premier. That would only be true if the constitution is changed and the president is given expanded powers, because under the new government the Presidential Council will cease to exist and the presidency will revert to a largely ceremonial position. An additional problem is that the Kurds have said they will not give up the president’s office, and hence the deadlock continues.
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