Tuesday, August 28, 2007


Sunni politicians have doubts on political deal

(Al Jazeera) - Iraq's Sunni politicians have expressed doubt that the US-backed prime minister will deliver on goals set down in an agreement hammered out by the country's top leaders over the weekend. Under intense US pressure, Nuri al-Maliki and four other senior leaders declared on Sunday that they had reached a consensus on a number of issues. These included freeing detainees held without charge, easing the ban on former Saddam Hussein supporters in government posts, regulating the oil industry and holding provincial elections. No details were released, and most measures require parliamentary approval.
Some key Sunni figures on Monday dismissed the agreement as a stalling tactic by al-Maliki to ease pressure from Washington.
"Our position is that this meeting represents a new phase of procrastination and does not honestly aim at solving the problems quickly," Khalaf al-Ilyan, a leader of the Sunni bloc, the Iraqi Accordance Front, said. "I think that no real or practical solution will come out of this."
Another Front leader, Adnan al-Dulaimi, said the accord included "good decisions that would serve the whole Iraqi people". "But we doubt that they will be implemented," he said. "All our experience with al-Maliki indicates that this is another new set of delaying measures. They give you a glimmer of hope, but at the end of the day you get nothing but promises."
Ryan Crocker, the US ambassador to Iraq, has expressed frustration over the lack of movement towards political reconciliation among the Shia, Sunni and Kurdish factions, but called Sunday's accord an "important step forward for political progress, national reconciliation and development". He attended Sunday's meeting with al-Maliki along with Adil Abdul-Mahdi, the Shia vice-president, Tariq al-Hashemi, the Sunni Arab vice-president, Massoud Barzani the head of the northern autonomous Kurdish region and President Jalal Talabani, who is also a Kurd.
But the deal did not convince the main Sunni Arab political bloc to take back the government posts they abandoned this month over differences with al-Maliki, a Shia. The Sunni walkout has paralysed the government ahead of a crucial report to the US congress by Crocker and General David Petraeus, the US commander in Iraq. In a step towards implementing the deal, US and Iraqi officials announced on Monday that US-led forces would increase the number of detainees released during the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan, which begins in September. They did not say how many would be freed.

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