In a panicked attempt to save his political career, his power and probably his skin, Nour al-Maliki has called a crisis meeting.
August 12, 2007 -- Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said today that he has called for a summit of the country's political leaders.The BBC adds that:
The summit is due to take place in the next few days.
Al-Maliki told a news conference the crisis summit would discuss the main issues in the political process. The Iraqi governing coalition has been fraught by infighting.
Most recently, the largest Sunni bloc, the Iraqi Accordance Front, withdrew from the cabinet.
Seventeen ministerial posts in al-Maliki's government are either empty or filled by members boycotting cabinet meetings.
A BBC correspondent says the crisis is worrying for the US, which wants to see progress before withdrawing troops.Barzani is very much in favor of the break-up of Iraq into at least semi-autonomous states, something almost all of those who are boycotting the government are vehemently opposed to. Unless he's prepared to make and then carry through massive concessions to both the Sunnis and the Sadrists - and I don't see much chance of either happening - this crisis meeting isn't going to put the process of Iraqi reconcilliation back on track. Since creating space for such a process was the whole point of the US military's Surge, it's doesn't matter much if the Surge succeeds or not. Having said that, all the indications are that it isn't, no matter what cheerleaders may want to tell themselves.
"I have called the political leaders for a meeting to discuss the main issues in the political process. The first meeting may happen tomorrow or the day after tomorrow," Mr Maliki announced on Sunday.
A senior Kurdish leader, Massoud Barzani, has already arrived in Baghdad for the talks. It is expected he will play a key role in the negotiations, says the BBC's Richard Galpin in Baghdad. In particular he will try to get the Sunni parties to decide whether to rejoin the government or go into opposition.
Many Iraqi MPs are not in the Iraqi capital at present because parliament is in its summer recess, which does not end until next month.
Update The leader of Iraq's largest Sunni political bloc, Adnan al-Dulaimi of the Iraqi Accordance Front, obviously doesn't think Maliki has any intention of dealing in good faith. In an appeal to neighbouring Sunni nations emailed to the AP today, he writes:
"Arabs, your brothers in the land of the two rivers and in Baghdad in particular are exposed to an unprecedented genocide campaign by the militias and death squads that are directed, armed and supported by Iran," al-Dulaimi said.In the mail, al-Dulaimi also says that "Persians" and "Safawis," Sunni terms for Iranian Shiites, were on the brink of total control in Baghdad and soon would threaten Sunni Arab regimes. "It is a war that has started in Baghdad and they will not stop there but will expand it to all Arab lands," he wrote. If that's the depth of feeling the leader of a coalition which had six members in Maliki's cabinet has, imagine what more militant Sunnis (like those Sheiks in Anbar) must feel.
And he castigated fellow Sunnis in the Middle East, saying they "did not make any move and did not even bother to denounce what is taking place against your brothers at the hands of Iranian militias and death squads."