Mr Maliki faces a tough, but hopeful task

April 22, 2006, 11:08 pm


By Andrew L. Jaffee

Finally, Iraq is forming a coalition government. Questions remain: Can Kurds, Shiites, and Sunnis work together to peaceably unify Iraq by settling their disputes in parliament, an independent judiciary, and through a free press (which in and of themselves are great achievements for the fledgling democracy)? Or will they continue to argue amongst themselves by proxy via death squads, terrorists, and petty politicking. My hope lays with the former question, to which I answer, “Yes.” It sounds like Iraq is off to a good start:

Iraq’s President Jalal Talabani has asked Shia politician Jawad al-Maliki to form the country’s next government. …

Sentenced to death by Saddam Hussein for belonging to the Shia Daawa Party, Mr Maliki fled Iraq in 1980 and took refuge in Syria.

He returned after the US-led invasion and was a top negotiator for the Shia bloc in the drafting of Iraq’s new constitution.

Correspondents say the tough-talking politician was initially not considered a likely candidate for prime minister, partly because of his proximity to Mr Jaafari.

However, Sunni politicians indicated they would not oppose Mr Maliki.

In Saturday’s parliamentary session, MPs elected President Talabani, a Kurd, to a second term in office.

They also gave the post of parliament speaker to Mahmoud al-Mashhadani, a Sunni Arab.

They picked Khalid al-Attiyah, a Shia politician, and Aref Tayfour, a Kurd, to be his deputies.

More than enough lives have been lost during the period between the December election and today’s formation of a coalition government. The new government has to act now to clamp down on all the rouge elements still wandering the country. That will mean military action against “insurgents,” gathering viable intelligence, and above all, making sure common Iraqis are involved in the decision making processes.

Iraq has achieved a great milestone. Now is not the time to pull Coalition forces out. There are more battles to be fought. The anti-democratic elements of Iraq’s society are most surely preparing a last hurrah to derail the new government.

Stock Photos from 123RF

Related: Iraq

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