Political progress in Iraq?
Iraq's top Shi'ite, Sunni Arab and Kurdish political leaders announced on Sunday they had reached consensus on some key measures seen as vital to fostering national reconciliation.The five leaders of the current governing coalition - The PM, the President and the two Vice Presidents, along with the President of the Kurdish semi-autonomous region, agreed on something.
The agreement by the five leaders was one of the most significant political developments in Iraq for months and was quickly welcomed by the United States, which hopes such moves will ease sectarian violence that has killed tens of thousands.
...Maliki's appearance on Iraqi television with the four other leaders at a brief news conference was a rare show of public unity.
The other officials present were President Jalal Talabani, a Kurd; Sunni Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi; Shi'ite Vice President Adel Abdul-Mahdi, and Masoud Barzani, president of the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region.
Iraqi officials said the five leaders had agreed on draft legislation that would ease curbs on former members of Saddam Hussein's Baath party joining the civil service and military.
Consensus was also reached on a law governing provincial powers as well as setting up a mechanism to release some detainees held without charge, a key demand of Sunni Arabs since the majority being held are Sunnis.
The laws need to be passed by Iraq's fractious parliament, which has yet to receive any of the drafts.
They have no agreement with anyone outside their own government however. Agreeing among themselves was never a problem. The Sunni VP is increasingly marginalized even within his own party, never mind among other Sunnis. The Shiite VP and PM have no agreement from anyone except DAWA and SCIRI. The Kurdish President and the President, who is a Kurd, are the only ones with the wholehearted support of their people - and their whole agenda is to keep the US as a hedge against Turkey and Iran while breaking up Iraq.
This is progress? No, just the same old maggoty mutton dressed as lamb.
Yet the corporate media fail to mention the obvious - something they obviously already know from their own reporting on recent desertions from Maliki's cabinet (20 of 33 ministers have quit) and withdrawals from the parliamentary procedure by political blocs frustrated at Maliki's "talk but no walk" government.
Pro-war bloggers are, of course, lapping up the spin wholesale. Many are well informed enough to know that this presser is window dressing, nothing more, yet most spin the facts as good news anyway. Others are desperate enough for some sign of political progress in Iraq as to entirely forget to mention who the "five leaders" involved in the accord actually are.
Update Reuters has a follow-up post that pours cold water on the premature jubilation.
A new political accord between Iraq's main Sunni Arab, Shi'ite and Kurdish leaders will not be enough to lure minority Sunni Arabs back into the government, the Sunni Arab vice president who signed it said on Monday.Yup, what I said. Before anyone starts popping corks, wait to see if Maliki can - or is even willing to - carry through on the PR.
"What happened yesterday is a good achievement in the current confused political situation. It is an achievement that deserves to be supported," Tareq al-Hashemi, the Sunni Arab vice president, told reporters.
Hashemi signed the agreement along with Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, a Shi'ite, and three other leading Shi'ite and Kurdish political leaders.
But Hashemi said the Accordance Front, which groups three parties from the disaffected Sunni Arab minority, would not reverse its decision to quit the cabinet on August 1.
"Our previous experience with the government has not been encouraging, and we will not go back just because of promises, unless there are real and tangible reforms," he said.
...Experts question whether the five leaders who reached the deal have enough support to pass laws in parliament.
On the Sunni Arab side, Hashemi leads just one of the three parties in the Accordance Front. On the Shi'ite side, the leaders who signed the deal did not include followers of cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, whose ministers quit the government this year.
"I don't see how they can push these through parliament when they don't have a majority in parliament," said Joost Hiltermann of the International Crisis Group think tank. "It will be very difficult to get some of these benchmarks met by this new alliance, which is basically more narrow than the one before."