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Iraq's Government


Al-Maliki Faces Revolt within Government (November 30, 2006)

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki faces new criticism by Sunni and Shiite politicians over his inability to control sectarian violence in Iraq, with Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi commenting that he wants Maliki's government gone and a new coalition put in place. Such comments come in the wake of a political boycott, led by Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, in protest of Maliki's meeting in December 2006 with US President George W. Bush. Sadrist legislators say they will resume participation in the political process only when a timetable for withdrawal of foreign troops from Iraq is established. (Associated Press)

Help Iraq Help Itself (November 8, 2006)

This New York Timesopinion piece comments on Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's recent independence from the Bush administration. In the past few weeks Maliki has confronted the US government, talking "as a peer with President Bush" instead of a pawn, and finally giving his people "a reason to believe in their government." The author predicts that Maliki's new found power may give him the capacity to demand a phased withdrawal of coalition forces from Iraq, whilst providing the United States with a much-needed exit strategy.

Amman Talks Could Bring Political Breakthrough (November 3, 2006)

In the hope of drawing more parties into the political process, Iraqi officials have met with representatives from a dozen Iraqi resistance groups, including members of the Ba'ath party – Saddam Hussein's former ruling faction. The opposition groups issued several demands during the talks, including a timetable for the withdrawal of US-led forces, and the elimination of all militias in Iraq. US officials also held bilateral talks with members of the resistance, with the aim of reducing sectarian violence. The talks precede a national reconciliation conference that will take place in mid-November 2006 in Baghdad. (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty)

Don't Blame Maliki for America's Iraq Problems (November 1, 2006)

This Examinerpiece accuses the Bush administration of using Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki as the latest scapegoat for the US government's failures in Iraq. Similarly, members of the US Congress blame Maliki for the violence that continues to plague the country, unwilling to admit that the war "was a bad idea to begin with." The author concludes that, by simply pressuring Maliki to disband the militias, the US government "overlooks the fundamental political reality in Iraq." By disbanding militias, the fractured Iraqi government would only escalate sectarian violence and create further disarray.

US Is Said to Fail in Tracking Arms for Iraqis (October 30, 2006)

The US Senate Armed Services Committee reports that the US military has not properly tracked hundreds of thousands of weapons intended for Iraq's security forces. The committee expresses concerns that such untracked weaponry, which includes rocket-propelled grenade launchers, assault rifles and machine guns, could end up in the hands of insurgents. Furthermore, the US armed forces has failed to provide spare parts, maintenance personnel or even repair manuals for many of the weapons given to Iraq, raising serious doubts about the capabilities of the country's defense force. (New York Times)

End Interior Ministry Death Squads (October 29, 2006)

Human Rights Watchclaims that personnel within Iraq's Ministry of Interior, some of whom have close ties to militia groups, participate in "death squad" killings and other horrific crimes. The NGO calls on the Ministry, which administers the country's security forces, to hold perpetrators accountable and prosecute those who participate in sectarian violence. "The Iraqi government must stop giving protection to security forces responsible for abduction, torture and murder."

The End of Maliki? Will a Coup Unravel Iraq? (October 19, 2006)

Whilst rumors circulate of a military coup to remove Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki from power, this TomDispatchpiece analyzes the political effects of such an act on the already unraveling country. The author suggests that a coup would give the Bush administration an opportunity to replace Maliki with a leader more willing to appease the US government. However, any interference in Iraq's government, either by the US or Iraqis themselves, will likely have a negative effect on the country's stability and unity.

Containing a Shiite Symbol of Hope (October 24, 2006)

This Christian Science Monitorarticle analyzes the role of popular Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr in Iraq's government. Despite the Bush administration's portrayal of Sadr as a violent and radical militia leader, he maintains significant political support among Iraq's disadvantaged Shiites, who identify with Sadr more than other leaders because of his similar impoverished background. The authors conclude that "the Sadrist movement is more social than religious," with Sadr providing a beacon of hope for Shiites who feel disenfranchised by the current situation in their country.

Judicial System Far from Independent (October 10, 2006)

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki promises to strengthen the country's legal system, weakened by two and a half decades of corruption under former President Saddam Hussein's rule. The premier will increase the judiciary's powers and push for an independent system that will function as the sole authority responsible for punishing crimes. However, finding impartial judges, "respected by all sides of Iraq's political and sectarian divide," has proved no easy task. (Integrated Regional Information Networks)

Coup in Iraq? (October 6, 2006)

This TomPaineopinion piece suggests that the Bush administration may support a coup d'etat to remove Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in an attempt to retain US influence over Iraq's government. Recent leaked reports confirm the US government's frustration with Maliki and his refusal to crack down on anti-occupation militias. As the author points out, Maliki's political power depends on the support of Muqtada al-Sadr, the Shiite politician who controls a militant anti-occupation force. Maliki has also promoted a reconciliation plan that the US disliked. Maliki's attempts to appease both Iraqi lawmakers and the Bush administration may lead to his eventual demise.

Iraqis Welcome Peace Plan but Look For Detail (October 3, 2006)

An agreement that aims to stem sectarian bloodshed in Iraq may bring unity to the country's governing body, with parliament supporting Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's proposal during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. However, several Shiite and Sunni political leaders view the agreement as a temporary solution to relieve US pressure on Maliki. The Bush administration has criticized the Iraqi leader for failing to end sectarian violence in Iraq, despite similar failures by the US military to restrain the insurgency. (Reuters)

Majorities of All Iraqi Ethnic Groups Want Strong Central Government (September 28, 2006)

Despite US media reports of a "weak and unpopular" Iraqi government, a recent World Public Opinion pollfinds that the majority of Iraqis wants a strong central administration, and rejects proposals by some Iraqi politicians of a looser federation of states. 60 percent of the population approves the actions of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in attempting to resolve the country's problems, although large majorities among all of Iraq's ethnic groups want the government to eradicate the militias.

Iraqi Parties Reach Deal Postponing Federalism (September 25, 2006)

Iraq's fractured parliament has agreed to form a 27-member committee to review the constitution and introduce a federalism law, which will divide the country into three autonomous regions. The law will not have effect for at least 18 months after its enactment, a compromise negotiated by Sunni law makers who claim the Shiite proposal will leave them with an area of land devoid of oil reserves. (Washington Post)

Playing Shell Games on Responsibility with Iraq (September 23, 2006)

US President George W. Bush has publicly declared his confidence in Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's ability to end violence to Iraq. Yet leaked reports suggest Bush has grown frustrated with his "puppet government's" inaction. This Boston Globearticle criticizes the US, which has deployed 140,000 troops and spent US$317 billion on the Iraq war, for equally failing to maintain order and shifting the blame of its own failures onto the Iraqi government.

Iraq Loses Its Voice of Reason (September 6, 2006)

Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Iraq's most prominent Shiite spiritual leader, has ceased his participation in Iraqi politics, citing disillusionment with the ruling coalition and continuing sectarian violence. Sistani, once the "voice of reason" for many Iraqis, expressed his frustration with the government's failure to bring law, order and security to Iraq and announced he will restrict himself to religious duties. As this Asia Timesarticle suggests, Sistani's exit leaves room for the popular Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr, who has won the support of many Iraqis with the creation of his own militia, the Mehdi Army, and his outspoken criticism of the US occupation forces.

Iraq Parliament Re-Opens Amid Strife (September 5, 2006)

As Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki struggles to unite his country's warring factions, the question of federalism remains at the top of Iraq's parliamentary agenda. Whilst many Shiite and Kurdish leaders push for more autonomous regions, Sunni lawmakers seek a strongly centralized and unified Iraq. As this Herald Sunarticle emphasizes, independent zones in the oil-rich Shiite south and Kurdish north would leave Sunnis economically isolated and enhance the fragility of an already war-torn country.

Which Iraqi Army? (September 1, 2006)

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's power derives from the US-backed Iraq National Army, and the Mehdi Army, a Shiite militia loyal to Maliki's most powerful political backer, Moqtada al-Sadr. As this New York Timespiece points out, Maliki owes his job to an alliance between his own Islamic Dawa Party and Sadr's faction. Yet Maliki can no longer stand aside and let violence in Iraq prevail between the two armies, he must chose between leading a unified Iraqi government and playing into the hands of the militia.

Key Sunni in Iraq May Resign (August 14, 2006)

The controversial speaker of Parliament, Mahmoud al-Mashhadani, plans to step down citing bitter animosity among Shiite and Kurdish political blocs. Since taking office in late May 2006, Mashhadani has publicly praised the Sunni insurgency, called the US "butchers" and denounced the partition of Iraq, which the Kurds and some Shiites strongly support. According to the New York Times, Mashhadani's resignation of would represent the "first major crack in the fragile unity government" since its installation on May 20, 2006.

Shiite Leaders Distance Themselves from Iraqi Government (August 1, 2006)

Angered by the growing violence and worsening quality of life, Shiite Muslim religious leaders have spoken out against the increasingly unpopular Iraqi government. Despite "aggressively" backing the formation of the unity government in 2006, the majority Shiite population of Iraq has grown frustrated with its "gross ineffectiveness" and corruption. The leaders' council has warned that such resentment could unleash "all out war" against Iraqi troops and US forces, plunging the country into further chaos. (McClatchy Newspapers)

Even in Iraq, All Politics Is Local (July 13, 2006)

This New York Timesopinion piece criticizes the approach of the US-led coalition in Iraq. As in Afghanistan, the US discredits regional leaders, rejects compromises and tries to "force through its own strategies." The author argues that such actions alienate potential US supporters, leave "power vacuums" and provoke further resistance.

Police Abuses in Iraq Detailed (July 9, 2006)

The Los Angeles Timeshas obtained a number of confidential Iraqi government documents from 2005 and 2006 which highlight the rampant brutality and corruption within Iraq's police force. The documents detail more than 400 investigations of abuses by officers including bribery, rape, kidnap and murder. Iraq's Interior Ministry has punished some officers, but dropped the majority of cases due to lack of evidence or witness testimony.

Only A UN-Led Peace Process Can Halt the Iraq Catastrophe (July 5, 2006)

Coalition forces in Iraq cannot play a positive role in reconstruction efforts due to the ongoing corruption, criminality and gross human rights abuses perpetrated by their forces. The author of this Guardianopinion piece advocates a UN-led peace process to "accelerate national reconciliation, improve the delivery of essential services and facilitate the end of the militarization." This solution would include the release of Iraqi detainees, the establishment of a "regional contact group" to encourage Iraq's neighbors to play a greater role in reconstruction, and as well a timeline for withdrawal of foreign troops. While welcoming these measures, some warn a UN presence in Iraq would only discredit the world body.

US Spoonfeeding Turns Iraqi Peace Plan Into Pablum (June 27, 2006)

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki has unveiled a weak, "US-palatable" reconciliation plan in a bid to end the widespread violence. The 28-point plan presented to parliament does not contain a previously promised amnesty for Iraqis who have fought against US soldiers. US pressure also forced the Iraqi government to remove any mention of US troop withdrawal. Without these "necessary components", the author argues that the plan will fail to entice a significant number of fighters to lay down their weapons. (CommonDreams)

For Whom, the Wells Drilled? (June 21, 2006)

Iraqi-run website Niqashlooks at the debate over the control of Iraq's oil sector, in particular the issues of federalism and privatization. Kurds oppose amending the oil-related articles of the Constitution, and call for greater regional autonomy. Others fear that too much decentralization could lead to "an uncoordinated and bureaucratic system." In addition, greater regional autonomy could end up transferring power - and more of Iraq's oil wealth "from public to private sector, and from Iraqis to foreign companies."

Iraq Amnesty Plan May Cover Attacks On US Military (June 15, 2006)

As part of a national reconciliation plan, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has proposed a limited amnesty to help end Iraq's violence. The plan will grant amnesty to members of Sunni armed factions who had attacked US troops in "legitimate acts of resistance," but Maliki stressed that it would not apply to those "whose hands are stained with Iraqi blood" or those who want to "interrupt the political process." The national reconciliation plan also includes a US-Iraqi agreement to free thousands of detainees in US-run prisons as well as the integration of militias into Iraq's security forces. (Washington Post)

Iraqi Leader Charts Nation's Priorities (June 10, 2006)

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has said that his four-year term would focus on strengthening Iraq's security forces and disarming militias, rebuilding infrastructure, and beginning a "national reconciliation" to end the fighting between the country's ethnic and sectarian groups. In dealing with the security situation, Maliki plans to classify the "militias" according to their cooperation with the government. He also said the government would consider paying pensions to some older members. (Washington Post)

A New Iraqi Government Takes Office (May 21, 2006)

After months of negotiation, Iraqi politicians have agreed on the formation of a permanent, 4-year government. Under Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, Iraq's 36 ministries have been allocated, largely following demographic proportions, to Iraq's main Shia, Kurdish, Sunni, and secular parties. Three main posts, for the Ministries of Interior, Defense, and National Security, remain open, as lawmakers could not agree on who should fill them. Some fear that Maliki's cabinet may collapse, given its broad composition and weak coherence, while others criticize "political expediency and Western pressure" for yielding a "deliberately hamstrung" government. (Los Angeles Times)

Appeal against Electing the Occupied Iraq to the UN Human Rights Council (May 7, 2006)

In light of Iraq's nomination to the new UN Human Rights Council, human rights groups in Iraq urge UN member states to vote against Baghdad's membership to the Council. The current Iraqi regime, they point out, is largely a continuation of the US-appointed Governing Council, and does not represent a free Iraq. Along with Iraq's government, US occupation forces have committed "gross and systematic" violations of human rights. As such, Iraqi membership to the Human Rights Council would discredit the body, and complicate political negotiations in Iraq. (Monitoring Network of Human Rights in Iraq)

National Sovereignty and Military Occupation Not Compatible (May 3, 2006)

Following the nomination of Jawad al-Maliki as prime minister, commentators constantly repeat the need for Iraq's government to overcome sectarian divisions, political deadlock, and a "brewing civil war." Yet as this article points out, Iraq cannot achieve national sovereignty and political legitimacy as long as the US-led occupation continues. Violence, corruption and sectarianism have all sprung from the military occupation, and will persist so long as it continues, despite the best efforts of Maliki or any other Iraqi politician. (Uruknet)

Next Steps for Implementing the Iraq Constitution (May 2006)

Prior to the October 15, 2005 constitutional referendum, Iraqi lawmakers agreed to amend the document following the December 2005 parliamentary elections. With the formation of a permanent government, Iraqi legislators must come together to amend and implement the constitution. This Public International Law and Policy Group(PILPG) report aims to facilitate and enhance the constitutional process. The report addresses key issues including federalism, human rights, resource allocation, the administration of justice, the electoral system, the rights of women and minorities and the impact of Islam in the constitution of Iraq.

Iraq's Sunnis Press for Constitutional Changes (May 2, 2006)

Sunni Arab voters approved Iraq's constitution only under the condition that it would be revised following the formation of Iraq's permanent four-year government. Political haggling has stalled Iraq's government, which has yet to address Iraq's controversial constitution. Sunni legislators have demanded a leadership position over the parliamentary committee established to amend the constitution, fearing that the document may create a weak, federal state and deprive Sunnis of a share in Iraq's oil wealth. (Reuters)

Jawad al-Maliki: A Novice, but Outspoken (April 23, 2006)

After prolonged negotiation, along with substantial pressure from the US and UK governments, Interim Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari withdrew his nomination for permanent prime minister, and the United Iraqi Alliance selected fellow Dawa party member Jawad al-Maliki to replace him. Though many Iraqis welcome the change and the formation of a permanent government, Maliki is not a well-known figure in Iraq, and the public has shown mixed reactions to his nomination. While some praise his direct and decisive style, others describe him as a Shiite "hard-liner" and criticize his lack of political experience. (New York Times)

The New Face of Iraq's Government (April 22, 2006)

With the nomination of Nuri Kamal al-Maliki as prime minister, Iraq has ended a months-long political deadlock and moved closer to forming a permanent government. Nonetheless, questions remain over political leadership and the control of Iraq's key government ministries. In this article, the Council on Foreign Relationsexamines various political figures and the future of Iraq's government.

Sadr Strikes (April 10, 2006)

According to Newsweek, the young Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has been a key figure in the United Iraqi Alliance, Iraq's ruling Shiite coalition. Sadr has pledged his support for interim Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari, helping him to win the UIA nomination for prime minister in Iraq's new 4-year government, in return for Jaafari's promise to demand a US withdrawal from Iraq. Despite receiving broad support, Sadr faces numerous challenges: some Shiite politicians, who have actively campaigned against Jaafari, dislike the pair's alliance, independence-minded Kurds oppose his anti-federalist politics, and the US resents his anti-occupation rhetoric.

Understanding the ‘Political Impasse' in Iraq (April 5, 2006)

Iraqi politicians have been slow to form a permanent four-year government following the December 15, 2005 parliamentary elections. As Helena Cobban points out, the US and the UK have pushed hard for a pliant Iraqi government. In particular, US and UK officials oppose the nomination of Ibrahim Jaafari as Prime Minister. The occupiers dislike Jaafari because he has promised to demand that foreign forces withdraw once he is confirmed as Iraq's Prime Minister. (Just World News)

Failure to Form Government Is Hurting Iraq, Leaders Admit (March 25, 2006)

More than three months after the December 15, 2005 parliamentary elections, Iraqi leaders have yet to form a government. Politicians attribute the standstill to a variety of factors – Shiite leaders accuse the US of interfering in Iraqi politics while Sunni Arabs say the Kurdish and Shiite factions remain unwilling to share power. Following the February 22 bombing of the Golden Dome in Samarra, sectarian violence has escalated, leading to a troublesome pattern: the inability to form a unity government has aggravated sectarian violence, which further complicates political negotiations. (Knight Ridder)

Top Iraqi Leaders Agree to Form a Policy Council (March 20, 2006)

Iraqi officials have agreed to establish a national security council, responsible for shaping policy on security and economic issues in Iraq's new government, in an attempt to create a more inclusive decision making process and temper sectarian tensions. The 19-member body will distribute seats proportionally, and will include the President, Prime Minister, and the speaker of Parliament, along with the leaders of Iraq's various political parties. The decision has raised some controversy, as questions remain over the extent of the council's power and its relationship to Iraq's broader parliamentary body and government ministries. (New York Times)

Iraqi Factions Oppose New al-Jaafari Term (March 1, 2006)

Iraqi Kurdish, Sunni, and secular parties plan to ask the United Iraqi Alliance (UIA), Iraq's largest Shiite bloc, to withdraw Ibrahim Jaafari's candidacy for prime minister in Iraq's new government. The groups have expressed disappointment and frustration with Jaafari and his poor record while serving as Prime Minister in Iraq's transitional government. Together, the three major Sunni, Kurdish and secular parties comprise 133 seats in Iraq's parliament, three more than the UIA, and enough to block it from forming a government. (Associated Press)

Questions Arise Over Al-Ja'fari Nomination (February 15, 2006)

Kurdish and Sunni political parties expressed disappointment over the nomination of Ibrahim al-Jafari as Prime Minister, citing mismanagement under Iraq's transitional government and the rise of sectarian militias. The United Iraqi Alliance (UIA), the ruling Shiite coalition, may also dissolve as members voted 64 to 63 in favor of Jafari over rival Adil Abd al-Mahdi during internal elections for prime minister. (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty)

Shiite Bloc Votes to Retain Iraq Premier (February 13, 2006)

The United Iraqi Alliance (UIA), Iraq's ruling Shiite coalition, voted to retain Ibrahim Jafari as prime minister. While many predicted the negotiations would fracture the UIA, which includes Jafari's Dawa party, the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, and followers of Muqtada al-Sadr, the vote preserved Iraq's largest parliamentary block. As prime minister, Jafari must now move forward with the more difficult negotiations of approving a cabinet and arranging power-sharing agreements with Iraq's various Kurdish, Sunni and secular parties. Many Iraqis are unhappy with the decision, blaming Jafari for widespread sectarian violence and the failure of Iraq's reconstruction during his tenure as interim prime minister. (Los Angeles Times)

America's Unlikely Savior (February 3, 2006)

Muqtada al-Sadr, a "fiery" Shiite cleric, may offer the best hope for Iraq's future. With as many as 30 seats in Iraq's new parliament, Sadr's political slate comprises a significant portion of the United Iraqi Alliance, Iraq's ruling Shiite coalition. Unlike many of his counterparts, however, Sadr has embraced the Sunni resistance while opposing federalism and supporting amendments to Iraq's troubled constitution. As Salonpoints out, Sadr's "fervent nationalism" and broad popularity may represent the best influence against an Iraqi civil war.

Civil War-Elect (January 23, 2006)

According to Robert Dreyfuss, the results of Iraq's parliamentary elections highlight a shattered Iraqi body politic that may very well lead to civil war. The Arab League peace initiative, a short-lived but promising effort to unite the Shiite-Kurdish government, the Sunni-led opposition, and the armed resistance, has collapsed, while Iraqi lawmakers must still resolve a contentious constitution, which Shiite leaders have refused to amend. As Dreyfuss points out, Iraq has little hope of establishing a "national unity government." (TomPaine)

Iraq Election Results Show Sunni Gains (January 20, 2006)

The Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq released the results of Iraq's December 15, 2005 Parliamentary elections. The ruling Shiite coalition, the United Iraqi Alliance, won 128 of 275 seats, a significant decrease from the previous elections in January 2005. Kurdish groups also lost some seats while increased Sunni turnout yielded a dramatic boost for Sunni representation. Because it fell short of an absolute majority, the Shiite alliance will need to form a coalition with rival factions in order to form a government. (Washington Post)

Kurds' Nationalist Hopes Remain Strong (January 19, 2006)

As Iraq's government gradually takes shape, Kurdish groups continue to demand independence. Though Kurdish political parties, led by Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, have gained significant power in Baghdad and have committed to a unified Iraq, polls indicate that 98 percent of Kurdish voters favor an independent Kurdistan. While Sunni-Shiite relations tend to dominate the discussion of Iraq's future, Kurdish autonomy will certainly play an important role in political negotiations. (Institute for War and Peace Reporting)

Leading Shiite to Oppose Changes to Iraqi Charter (January 11, 2006)

Abdul Azziz al-Hakim, head of the United Iraqi Alliance (UIA), a leading Shiite coalition projected to win roughly half the seats in Iraq's new parliament, announced that the UIA would block any future changes to Iraq's constitution. The announcement is certain to spark controversy, as many Sunni voters agreed to support the constitution only on the condition that it could be amended following the December 15 elections and the formation of a new government. (New York Times)

Iraq's Election Aftermath Reveals a Failed State (January 5, 2006)

According to Power and Interest News Report, the fragmentation of power, an ongoing insurgency, high levels of unemployment and a lack of basic services are all the markings of a failed state. Based on early results from the December 15 parliamentary elections, Iraq lacks a coherent political class and a functioning civil government may not emerge. Rather than marking the transition to democracy, Iraq's elections "were the opening shot of an intensified conflict" that has revealed a failed Iraqi state.


Iraq's Election Result: a Divided Nation (December 21, 2005)

While official election results may take weeks to confirm, preliminary tallies show the Shiite-led United Iraqi Alliance winning well over 50 percent in the Shiite center and south, with Sunni and Kurdish groups winning majorities in their respective regions. In Baghdad, Iraq's leading secular block, Iyad Allawi's Iraqi National List, favored by the US, won only 14 percent of the vote. As the Independentpoints out, the majority of election participants voted as Shiites, Sunnis or Kurds. Instead of being a benchmark of US policy success, as portrayed by President George Bush, Iraq's parliamentary election marks the "final shipwreck" of US and British plans for a pliant, secular, and pro-Western Iraq.

Iraq Polls See Large Turnout, but Insurgency Persists (December 17, 2005)

High voter turnout for Iraq's December 15 parliamentary elections represents a significant increase from Iraq's January 30, 2005 transitional parliamentary elections. While Sunnis boycotted the January elections, roughly 11 million of Iraq's 15 million eligible voters, including many Sunnis, participated this time around. Nonetheless, increased political participation does not mean an end to armed resistance and many experts expect a prolonged insurgency. (Daily Star – Lebanon)

Q&A: Iraqi General Election (December 16, 2005)

The BBCprovides answers to common questions following Iraq's December 15 elections for a permanent government. After the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq confirms the election results, which may not happen until January 2006, the new Iraqi Parliament may take three months or longer to choose a President and Prime Minister and form a cabinet. Though Iraq's permanent government will most likely be more representative, and therefore legitimate, than the transitional National Authority, sectarian rivalry will continue to hinder its effectiveness.

No Elections Will Be Credible While Occupation Continues (December 15, 2005)

In light of Iraq's December 15 parliamentary elections, Harith al-Dari, Secretary General of the Association of Muslim Scholars in Iraq, reflects on the state of Iraqi politics and society. Given the brutality and illegality of the US-led occupation, and its centrality in fueling conflict, coalition forces must withdraw for the political process in Iraq to succeed. (Guardian)

What to Expect in Iraq after the December 15 Elections (December 14, 2005)

According to Power and Interest News Report, the December 15 parliamentary elections will do little to unify Iraq. As a minority, Sunnis will probably not be able to ensure a strong, centralized state, despite high voter turnout. Kurds, though highly unified, represent an even smaller segment and largely seek to consolidate their autonomy. The United Iraqi Alliance, a religious Shiite coalition that holds a majority in Iraq's transitional government, will probably retain many of its seats, though it suffers from internal fractions and dwindling public support in response to its perceived failures. Given Iraq's vague and controversial constitution, it is unlikely that a new government will be able to effectively govern Iraq.

Iraq's Perilous, Pricey Campaign (December 13, 2005)

Violence and security concerns have heavily influenced Iraq's December 15 parliamentary elections. Several candidates have already been killed or targeted, forcing Iraqi politicians to rely on television, text messaging, and other expensive technological formats to do their campaigning. Though 7,000 candidates from 226 political parties are vying for Iraq's 275 national assembly seats, very few of them can afford the high costs of running a campaign. (Christian Science Monitor)

Frequently Asked Questions – 15 December Electoral System (December 2005)

The Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq, an independent, non-partisan Iraqi entity charged with regulating Iraq's elections, has provided answers to frequently asked questions about the December 15 parliamentary elections. Most of Iraq's 275 seats will be allocated in proportion to the number of voters in each regional governate, with a small portion of "compensatory" seats reserved for less influential political entities with broad support. In addition, Iraq's constitution guarantees women twenty-five percent of parliamentary seats.

Iraqi Factions Seek Timetable for US Pullout (November 22, 2005)

Iraq's Sunni, Shiite, and Kurdish leaders convened at an Arab League-backed reconciliation conference in Cairo, Egypt. Despite ongoing sectarian rivalry in Iraq, the conference provided a valuable forum for dialogue in the run-up to the December 15 parliamentary elections. Iraqi President Jalal Talabani pledged to meet with insurgents if they put down their weapons, while delegates affirmed the right to resist foreign occupation and called on the US to implement a timetable for withdrawal. (New York Times)

Police, Civil Servants in Iraq Punished for not Voting (November 18, 2005)

Citing a "democratic duty" to go to the polls, Kurdish officials have admitted arresting or firing government employees for choosing not to vote in Iraq's constitutional referendum. Some officials, who believed the constitution did not go far enough in providing for an independent Kurdish state, opted not to vote rather than vote "no" on Iraq's constitution. Regulations under the Independent Electoral Commission in Iraq protect government employees' right to participate in or abstain from elections, and many of the accused called the punishments a violation of democratic principles. (Institute for War and Peace Reporting)

Iraq's Constitution Is Incomplete (October 29, 2005)

Iraq's constitution nominally serves as the foundation for a federal democratic system. The reality in Iraq does not represent such a system. Professor Ersin Kalaycioglu discusses federalism and constitutional politics and the implications for Iraq's future. (Daily Star - Lebanon)

Sadr, Sunnis Join Hands to Contest Polls (October 27, 2005)

With the adoption of Iraq's new constitution, several opposition groups have formed political coalitions for the December 15 legislative elections. Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr has allied with Sunni groups such as the Conference of the People of Iraq, the Iraqi Islamic Party, and the Iraqi National Dialogue to create the Iraqi Concord Front. Though they have not yet formalized their platform, the coalition hopes to "consolidate national unity." (Agence France Presse)

Iraq Voters Back New Constitution (October 25, 2005)

After review by the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq, a nation-wide referendum approved the constitution. A simple majority of the population voted "no" in 3 out of 18 provinces – the minimum needed to overturn the constitution – but only two did so with the necessary two-thirds majority. (BBC)

Monitors in Iraq Review Votes Where 'Yes' Ballots Hit 90% (October 18, 2005)

Election officials are examining the results of Iraq's constitutional referendum. While early vote counts pointed to approval, especially high turnout rates – reaching 99% in some regions – have raised questions of fraud. Results will be announced following a review by the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq. (New York Times)

Iraq: Unified by Oil? (October 14, 2005)

Though perhaps one the more divisive issues facing Iraq, oil may be the key to Iraqi unity. Article 109 of the Iraqi constitution declares that oil belongs to "all the Iraqi people in all the regions and provinces." Tamara Chalabi of openDemocracydiscusses how the democratization of oil revenues would give Iraqi citizens a direct stake in Iraq's oil industry, helping to unify the country while fortifying democratic institutions and stimulating the economy.

The Iraqi Constitution: A Referendum for Disaster (October 13, 2005)

Phyllis Bennis of the Institute for Policy Studiescritically examines Iraq's constitution. The Bush administration has heavily influenced the entire process, from drafting the document to rushing into elections, in an eager attempt to consolidate US control while validating claims of "democratization." Far from democratic, the constitution lacks legitimate Iraqi consensus and threatens the country with increased conflict.

Deal in Iraq Raises Hopes for Passage of Constitution (October 12, 2005)

With heavy influence from US Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, Iraqi lawmakers have agreed to changes to assuage Sunni opposition. If the constitution passes, lawmakers can still modify the document following elections in December for a permanent government. If it fails, the national assembly will dissolve, new elections will take place, and a second constitution will be drafted. Given the expected increase in Sunni representation following the December parliamentary elections, these changes mark a last-ditch effort to preserve a constitution shaped by US interests. (Washington Post)

A Central Pillar of Iraq Policy Crumbling (October 9, 2005)

US officials have begun questioning the prevailing strategy of establishing a democratic Iraq. As many experts argue, success in Iraq does not depend on elections or a formal constitution, but rather on reaching genuine political consensus. Many believe this process has been sacrificed to arbitrary deadlines in order to maintain US public support for the war. (Los Angeles Times)

Iraqis Reverse Disputed Rules on Referendum (October 6, 2005)

Iraq's National Assembly has agreed to reverse changes that were made to voting rules on the constitutional referendum. The initial change would have required two-thirds of all registered voters, opposed to actual voters, in 3 out of the country's 18 provinces to vote no in order for the constitution to be blocked. Sunni leaders threatened to boycott the referendum while the UN condemned the changes, saying the new rules failed to meet international standards. (New York Times)

Iraq's President Calls for PM to Step Down (October 2, 2005)

Iraq's government is torn by conflict on the eve of elections over a draft constitution. Iraq's President, Jalal Talabani has called on Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jafaari to relinquish his post. Furthermore, Shiite and Kurdish leaders have adopted new voting rules that anger Sunnis and make opposition to the constitution much more difficult. (Associated Press)

Unmaking Iraq: A Constitutional Process Gone Awry (September 26, 2005)

The rush to adopt a constitution has exacerbated sectarian differences in Iraq. This process has marginalized consensus while weakening the document itself, and threatens the country with increased violence if nothing is done to ease ethnic divisions. (International Crisis Group)

Saudi Minister Warns US Iraq May Face Disintegration (September 23, 2005)

In an alarming announcement, the Saudi Foreign Minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal warned the Bush administration of increasing violence and polarization in Iraq. Elections alone, he warned, will not pull Iraq together and the common designation of Sunnis as "Baathist criminals" does little to improve the situation. (New York Times)

Iraq's Democracy Dilemma (September 22, 2005)

Iraq's democratic system is off to a shaky start. According to this article from the Christian Science Monitor, many Transitional National Assembly decisions take place behind closed doors rather than on the assembly floor. In addition, many assembly members do not attend meetings and are pressured to vote along party lines.

Draft Constitution Finished, Lawmakers Announce (September 15, 2005)

After several rounds of negotiation, lawmakers have announced the completion of Iraq's draft constitution. The United Nations has postponed printing until legislators present the text to the National Assembly. Given the October 15 referendum date and the time required for printing, Iraqi voters will have two weeks to read and debate the document, rather than the two months stipulated in the interim constitution. Despite the talks and modifications, the issue of federalism and national identity remains a point of contention. (Los Angeles Times)

US Influence 'Too Much' (September 5, 2005)

A legal affairs officer for the office of constitutional support with the United Nations Assistance Mission to Iraq (UNAMI) criticizes US Ambassador Zalmay Khalizad for trying to manipulate Iraq's constitution drafting process. He condemns Washington's influence as "highly inappropriate for a country with 140,000 soldiers in country." The article points out the illegality of these efforts and their divisive effects upon Iraqi society. (Inter Press Service)

Iraq's Charter Reflects a Deeper Arab Ordeal (September 3, 2005)

As Iraqis negotiate their draft constitution, Rami Khouri discusses the future of the country, US neocolonial involvement, and Iraq's deepened sectarian differences. The author anticipates violence and possibly civil war, while questioning the viability of a unified Iraqi state. (Daily Star - Lebanon)

The Iraqi Constitution: DOA? (August 26, 2005)

Professor Juan Cole looks at how the Kurdish and Shiite delegations sidelined Sunni Arabs during the Iraqi constitution-drafting process. Cole argues that a series of US missteps dating back to the beginning of the occupation empowered Kurds and Shiites at the Sunnis' expense, contributing tremendously to the current impasse. He also criticizes the Bush administration's insistence on an August deadline for the constitution, and says that the drafters should have taken an extra six months to reach an agreement. (Salon)

Behind Constitution Talks, Iraq's Troubles Loom (August 18, 2005)

The Iraqi constitution-drafting committee is taking an extra week past the August 15, 2005 deadline to finish the document. Though the US Ambassador to Iraq says the drafters need only a few extra days to "fine-tune the language," serious disagreements between various parties remain. The delay spells trouble for the US, which has insisted on the deadline so that Iraq appears to be making progress toward a new political system. According to one analyst, "The timetable has been extremely theatrically staged from Washington and has very little to do with Baghdad." (Reuters)

A Constitution That Means Nothing to Ordinary Iraqis (August 15, 2005)

Robert Fisk says that while the Iraqi and US political classes obsess over the constitution-drafting process, ordinary Iraqis worry about more immediate concerns. Most Iraqis do not believe that a constitution will put an end to Iraq's violence. They have lost faith in politics, saying that the Jaafari government has failed because it cannot guarantee security and has made no progress on reconstruction. Says one Iraqi, "Federalism? You can't eat federalism and you can't use it to fuel your car and it doesn't make my fridge work." (Independent)

US Steps Up Role in Iraq Charter Talks (August 13, 2005)

The US Ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, has been playing an active role in the drafting of the Iraqi constitution, although officials have previously said that the US would not intervene in the process. Officials insist that the drafting committee finish its work by August 15, 2005, because the Bush administration has said it wants to see a constitution in place before it begins to withdraw US troops from Iraq. (Washington Post)

Deadline Threatens to Limit Public Input on Iraq's Constitution (August 7, 2005)

Iraqi officials are racing to finish a draft constitution under pressure from US authorities, who believe that its completion will undercut the insurgency. However, because of the rushed nature of the process, drafters have little time to consult with citizens in order to build support for the document. The article notes that Iraqis are cynical about US involvement in the drafting process, and many doubt that a constitution will change their daily lives for the better. (Knight Ridder)

Iraq Constitution May Erode Women's Rights (July 26, 2005)

The Iraqi National Assembly is writing a constitution that could weaken women's rights in the areas of marriage, divorce and inheritance. Shiite members of the draft panel support an expanded role for Islam within civil law, but women's groups say that such a move would threaten the rights they enjoyed under Iraq's previous governments. This article also addresses the controversy surrounding the draft constitution's language outlawing non-governmental militias. (Associated Press)

Get Out the Vote (July 25, 2005)

This investigative piece by Seymour Hersh contends that the US covertly intervened in Iraq's elections last January in order to minimize the influence of Shiite parties. According to military and intelligence officials, the Central Intelligence Agency channeled funds to former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi's electoral slate in order to boost his sagging popularity. In the end, says Hersh, the "efforts to reduce the Shiites' plurality, if they had any effect, only delayed their formation of a government, contributing to the instability and disillusionment that have benefited the insurgency in recent months." (New Yorker)

Iraq's President Complains of Shiite Prime Minister Monopolizing Power (July 10, 2005)

According to Arabic press sources, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani sent a letter to Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari in July 2005, complaining that he monopolizes power and ignores the Kurdish members of the Iraqi Cabinet. Talabani also charged that al-Jaafari has not done enough to ensure the return of displaced Kurds to Kirkuk. A Kurdish legislator said that the letter had been "effective," and that al-Jaafari has agreed to apply the laws concerning the Kurds' return to the province. (Associated Press)

Iraq's Constitutional Process Plunges Ahead (July 2005)

Nathan J. Brown analyzes the progress of Iraq's National Assembly as it drafts a new constitution by the August 15 deadline. He pays special attention to the ways in which the drafting process might have deepened ethnic and religious tensions in Iraqi society. He also critiques the "rushed" character of the process, and cautions that the document "is unlikely to address Iraq's political crisis." (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace)

Constitution of Iraq: Draft Bill of Rights (June 30, 2005)

A subcommittee of the drafting committee of the Iraqi constitution has written a preliminary bill of rights. Translator Nathan J. Brown provides commentary throughout the document, which covers areas such as citizenship, security, health care, and freedom of association, among other issues. He notes that the bill departs from the previous interim constitution adopted by the Iraqi Governing Council in March 2004, in that it contains strong wording on welfare rights.(Carnegie Endowment for International Peace)

Sunnis to Accept Offer of a Role in Constitution (June 16, 2005)

Apparently breaking the deadlock over Sunni representation on the constitutional committee, Sunnis have accepted a compromise offer that would increase their representation by an additional 15 seats and 10 adviser positions. The significance of this move is unclear, however, as all 71 members of the body will have to approve the constitution unanimously. While Iraqi leaders "have pledged they will not resort to a legally available extension of the Aug. 15 deadline to write the constitution," a member of a Sunni group which has pressed for a greater role in the process said "I don't want to put my name on a constitution that will be written in two weeks." (New York Times)

Iraq Sunnis Reject Compromise on Constitution (June 10, 2005)

Sunni leaders have rejected a Shiite offer to expand their representation on Iraq's parliamentary committee from two to 15, saying they would hold out for 25 seats. A Sunni spokesman warned that if the Shiites refuse their demand, Sunnis will suspend their participation in the constitutional process. (Reuters)

Kurds Still Without Govt After January Poll (May 26, 2005)

The two main Kurdish parties, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), have failed to form a regional government. Though party officials insist the two groups will come to an agreement and that "no major differences" exist between them, Kurds have grown angry and impatient at the lack of a local government nearly four months after the Iraqi elections. (Inter Press Service)

Proposal to Divide Iraq into Semi-Autonomous States Gains Ground (May 24, 2005)

Shiites in Iraq's south want to unite the three provinces of Maysan, Basra and Dhiqar into a single semi-autonomous state. This has increased tension between the region's Shiite majority and Sunni minority, and many observers worry that separation of Iraq into states "may push the country toward Balkanization." (Knight Ridder)

Shiites Dominate Committee Chosen to Draft Constitution (May 11, 2005)

Shiites dominate Iraq's new 55-member constitutional drafting committee, which "will likely be expanded in order to bring in more Sunni Arabs." The election of the committee as one of parliament's first acts "reflects many legislators' desire to meet the mid-August deadline" for writing a constitution. (Washington Post)

Former Ministers Flee as Iraq Begins Corruption Inquiry (May 9, 2005)

Fearing that they may be detained by the new Iraqi government on corruption charges, former ministers are fleeing the country. The new government has pledged to fight pervasive corruption, which stems partly from political parties treating the ministries they control "as a source of patronage and funds." One former minister suspects "that some allegations of corruption against former ministers may be a settling of scores." (Independent)

Iraq's Assembly Overwhelmingly Approves New Government (April 28, 2005)

Three months after the January elections, Iraq's National Assembly has finally created a government. Though 180 of 185 legislators in attendance voted in favor of the new government, nearly a third of the assembly did not show up for the vote. Further, four important cabinet positions went to placeholders because the assembly could not agree on candidates. The most controversial appointee is Ahmad Chalabi, who will serve as temporary head of the oil ministry. (New York Times)

In Iraq, a Push for Political Momentum (April 13, 2005)

During his surprise visit to Iraq, US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld warned Iraqis that anything delaying progress toward a working government "would be unfortunate." But the difficulties that plagued negotiations between the winning parties after the January 30 elections call into question the August deadline for agreeing on a constitution. Middle East historian Juan Cole said the idea that these parties could write a constitution in such a short time seemed "fanciful." (Christian Science Monitor)

Iraq's Political System Under Fire (April 11, 2005)

Iraq's complicated new political system limits the influence of any one faction by requiring a two-thirds "super-majority" to form a government, unlike the fifty percent required by most countries. Juan Cole, an outspoken critic of the US-imposed system, calls the arrangement a "neo-colonial imposition." Proponents argue that this system provides a necessary incentive for minorities, such as the Kurds, to participate, but even some of them say such a government "risks institutionalizing divisions rather than overcoming them." (BBC)

A Gentleman's Agreement in Iraq (April 5, 2005)

A "gentleman's agreement" between the three main Iraqi factions gives the Shiites the position of Prime Minister, the Presidency to the Kurds, and Speaker of Parliament to the Sunnis. Though many Arabs criticize this arrangement as the "Lebanonization" of Iraq, it "is in fact the safest formula to guarantee proper representation and minimize conflict between all parties," writes the Asia Times.

The Implications of the Delayed Formation of Iraq's Government (April 1, 2005)

The reasons for the delay of the formation of Iraq's government will not go away once the new government is in place, and this will lead to further tensions when the time comes to draft the new constitution. These tensions may weaken the government to the point where the population "will look to regional and ethnic leaders for help [. . .], increasing the likelihood of sectarian violence." (Power and Interest News Report)

Kirkuk: Between Kurdish Separatism and Iraqi Federalism (March 31, 2005)

This analysis looks at the role of Kirkuk in Kurdish politics in Iraq. Kirkuk has become a major point of contention between Kurds and Arabs; the Kurds see it as a way of securing their financial and political autonomy, as the city sits on 15-20 percent of Iraq's oil reserves. They support their claims to Kirkuk by raising a number of historical and geographical points, including Saddam Hussein's Arabization campaign that resettled more than a hundred thousand Kurds to the South of Iraq, replacing them with Arabs in Kirkuk and the surrounding region. (Middle East Media Research Institute)

Politics Start to Lose Luster for Iraqis (March 30, 2005)

Iraqi Interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi warned that the provision in the US-sponsored interim constitution requiring a two-thirds majority in parliament to elect a government "had effectively crippled" efforts to create a new government after the January 2005 elections. The deadlock has led to increased frustration among the Iraqi public, who braved insurgent attacks to vote. (Agence France Presse)

Sunnis' Exclusion from Political Process Stokes Fears of Civil War (March 28, 2005)

Iraqi analysts and politicians grow increasingly worried at the lack of Sunni participation in the political process. While officials with main Sunni groups believe their "presence and representation in the next government is an important and necessary thing," disagreements between Sunni factions prevent them from joining the process as a single bloc. Many Iraqis fear that the lack of a Sunni role in the new government might even lead to civil war. (Knight Ridder)

Delay and Uncertainty Hamper Day-to-Day Efforts of Iraqi Ministries (March 26, 2005)

Uncertainty about the future government and widespread confusion among government workers have stalled important reconstruction projects and the day-to-day work of Iraq's ministries. Attributing the stagnation to government employees working slowly "because they are distracted by the political negotiations and insecurity of their own jobs," a spokesman for the Interior Ministry characterized the lack of progress as "a very unfortunate way to begin a new government." (New York Times)

Marking Time (March 18, 2005)

The winning parties in Iraq's January election have reached an impasse in their negotiations to form a new government. The interim caretaker regime under Prime Minister Iyad Allawi will not enter into any long-term contracts or implement long-term policies, so the government has essentially ceased major work. Meanwhile, Iraqis grow impatient, asking "where's the government?" (Newsweek)

Many Iraqis Losing Hope That Politics Will Yield Real Change (March 17, 2005)

Many Iraqis express "widespread dismay and even anger that the elections have not yet translated into a new government." Little has changed since the elections, and the most pressing issues -- water, sewage and electricity -- remain unresolved. Several residents of the Sadr City neighborhood in Baghdad complained they could not even watch the National Assembly's inaugural meeting on television because of power outages. (New York Times)

The State(s) of Iraq (March 10, 2005)

US and EU commitment to a "federal, democratic, pluralistic and unified Iraq" does not take the country's history into account, and in doing so "is likely to lead to disastrous violence." The authors of this Asia Timesarticle insist that there is no such thing as an "Iraqi nation"; the British constructed the state of Iraq by putting three dissimilar groups under the rule of one government. The authors argue that any attempt to establish a strong unitary state will result in either "dictatorship or civil war," and suggest three separate states or a confederation, stabilized by the EU or UN, as solutions.

Iraq Coalition Talks Falter over Kurd Demands (March 3, 2005)

Negotiations between Shiite and Kurdish leaders aimed at forging a coalition government faltered as the Kurds demanded an expansion of their autonomous region to include oil-rich Kirkuk, in addition to installing one of their own as president. Ibrahim al-Jaafari, who is the Shiite-backed candidate for prime minister, needs the support of the Kurds to create a majority government. (Scotsman)

Shia Party Rises From the Ashes (February 28, 2005)

During the 1980s, the US turned a blind eye to Saddam Hussein's oppression of Islamist Shia, seeing Iraq's dictatorship as preferable to Iran-style clerical rule. Twenty years later, the same formerly-oppressed Shia the US tried to keep out of power have won a clear victory in the elections organized by Washington. (Inter Press Service)

Iraq's Neighborhood Councils Are Vanishing (February 25, 2005)

The neighborhood councils created by the US to develop local governance and ease Iraq's transition to democracy have all but disappeared, their members either assassinated or forced into hiding by insurgent groups. This Christian Science Monitorpiece notes that the two councils the publication has tracked since late 2004 "no longer exist."

Enter a Unifier and a Healer (February 24, 2005)

Ibrahim Jaafari's preeminence in the competition for the post of Iraqi Prime Minister raises the question of whether this signals the advent of a Shiite-dominated Islamic state with close ties to neighboring Iran. The author of this Asia Timesarticle argues that on the contrary, Jaafari aims to create "a system that is open to all components of society" and that he has "shown every desire to maintain a distance with Iran."

Leading Shiite Party Selects Nominee for Iraqi Prime Minister (February 22, 2005)

Ahmed Chalabi withdrew his candidacy for Prime Minister of Iraq, leaving Dr. Ibrahim Jaafari as the Shiite coalition's choice for the post. Chalabi reportedly caved to intense pressure from leaders of the Shiite alliance. Jaafari now needs the support of the Kurds, Interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, or both to become Prime Minister. Such support will not come unless Jaafari promises a secular state as part of the permanent constitution. (New York Times)

Testing Ground (February 21, 2005)

George Packer of the New Yorkercovers the tension between religious and political factions in Iraq's Shiite south, concentrating on the city of Basra. While outside observers wonder whether the Shiite electoral victory will result in significant Iranian influence, Shiites themselves dismiss Iran's importance. Instead, the main debate focuses on whether Islam or secularism should guide the country's future.

A Time For Political Wisdom in Iraq (February 17, 2005)

For the first time in decades, Iraqis finally have a sense of "ownership" of the political process. This Al-Ahramopinion piece suggests that Iraq's future now depends on what the Iraqis do with it, though "the way forward is strewn with formidable obstacles -- not least the unresolved problem of the American military presence."

Implications of the Iraqi National Elections Toward US Strategic Interests (February 16, 2005)

According to this Power and Interest News Reportanalysis, the Shi'a majority's victory in the Iraqi election is a "worrying development" for the US, as it will likely result in improved Iraq-Iran relations. Closer ties between these two energy-rich states could lead to a regional hegemony that "would be able to extract concessions from Western powers in exchange for energy supplies."

Race for Top Iraq Post Narrows to 2 Shiites (February 16, 2005)

The race for the post of Prime Minister of Iraq has narrowed down to two candidates: Ibrahim Jafari of the Dawa Party and Ahmed Chalabi. While Dr. Jafari enjoys the support of Iraq's two main Shiite parties, Chalabi's prominence among secular members of the newly elected national assembly ensures that he remains a viable candidate, despite his low popularity among Iraqi voters and fraud charges against him in neighboring Jordan. (New York Times)

Iraqi Shiites Win, but Margin Is Less than Projection (February 13, 2005)

A broad Shiite coalition won a slim majority of seats according to final election results from Iraq, giving them less than the two-thirds required to form a government. An alliance of two main Kurdish parties came in second, and Interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi's party came in third. Eight other parties also won enough votes for representation in the national assembly. A total of 8.5 million people, or 58 percent of eligible voters, cast ballots in the election. (New York Times)

Final Results of Iraq's Elections Delayed (February 9, 2005)

Due to "rebels" tampering with some 300 ballot boxes, Iraq's Electoral Commission has postponed announcing the final results of the election until the commission recounts those votes. The commission's spokesman Farid Ayar said that "[they] don't know when this will finish." Preliminary election results show Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani's Shiite coalition in the lead, with a Kurdish coalition in second place and Iyad Allawi's bloc in third. (Aljazeera)

Sistani Begins on His True Agenda (February 8, 2005)

The United Iraqi Alliance (UIA), backed by Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, looks set to emerge as the dominant party after the election by a wide margin. With leading Shi'ite clerics in Iraq "pushing for Islam to be recognized as the guiding principle of the new constitution," this Asia Timespiece argues that the Bush administration should prepare for the possibility of an Islamic democratic Iraq - one "not likely to be anyone's puppet."

After Iraq's Wartime Elections (February 7, 2005)

Noting that more than two-thirds of the country's Shiites want US forces out of Iraq, this Foreign Policy In Focuspiece suggests that the US will not benefit from the election's results and urges "Westerners of all political persuasions to finally start seeing Iraq's richly diverse people for who they are instead of kicking them like footballs to try to advance a political agenda."

Sunni Groups Agree to Help Draft Iraqi Constitution (February 4, 2005)

After continually rejecting Iraq's elections, two major Sunni groups say they will join in drafting the nation's constitution. One of the two groups, the Iraqi Islamic Party, attributed this reversal to outreach by Shiite political leaders who hope to avert civil strife by bringing Sunni representatives into the new government. (Knight Ridder)

Allawi Faces Defeat as Iraqi Cleric's Team Leads the Polls (February 4, 2005)

The electoral list backed by Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani looks poised to defeat current interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi's coalition. Partial results from Baghdad, where the prime minister's list was expected to do well, show al-Sistani's alliance leading Allawi's coalition by more than twice as many votes. (Independent)

Iraqi Leader Says Thousands Couldn't Vote (February 1, 2005)

According to Iraq's interim president, tens of thousands of people may not have voted in Basra, Baghdad, and Najaf due to a shortage of ballots. This allegation could further alienate the Sunni minority, many of whom complain of being left out of the political process. (Associated Press)

Democracy Won, But Do Americans Care? (February 1, 2005)

US President George Bush wants to use the outcome of the Iraqi elections to bolster support for the occupation at home. But increasing domestic opposition to Washington's involvement in Iraq could jeopardize the Administration's ambitious plans for the Middle East. (Daily Star)

It's Not the Vote that Counts (February 1, 2005)

An estimated 60 percent of eligible Iraqi voters turned out for the election, although the absence of accredited independent poll observers makes this figure difficult to verify. Voters in the Kurdish north and Shi'ite south flocked to the polls, while Sunni-dominated areas saw substantially lower numbers in comparison. (Asia Times)

UN Says Mission Accomplished and that Legitimacy Is Now in Hands of Iraqis (January 27, 2005)

According to UN Director of the Electoral Assistance Division Carina Perelli, the UN has assisted Iraqis by printing more than 25 million ballots and setting up a total of 5,300 voting centers, staffed by party agents and poll watchers. But no matter how much help the UN provides, ultimately "whether [the election] is legitimate and credible [...] is primarily for the Iraqi people to decide." (New York Times)

Balking at Vote, Sunnis Seek Role on Constitution (January 25, 2005)

Even though many prominent Sunnis call for a boycott of the January 30 elections, they intend to fully participate in the drafting of Iraq's constitution, according to the New York Times. This suggests that the Sunnis are willing, at least partly, to work within the US-controlled political process. As one Sunni leader who objects to the elections put it, "[it's] a judgment call, whether it's more useful to be part of the process or to be outside."

What Would a Shi'a Win Mean for Mideast? (January 24, 2005)

Iraqi Shi'a look poised to win a majority of seats in the January 30 elections, an apparent foreign policy victory for neighboring Shi'a Iran. But the new Iraqi government will likely take a republican and secular shape, putting it at odds with its neighbor. Further, the resurgence of Iraqi Shi'a may result in Al-Najaf, Iraq's most holy Shi'a city, regaining its status as the world's religious Shi'a capital, eclipsing Qom in Iran and shifting some power away from Tehran. (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty)

Voter Turnout Won't Be Enough to Legitimise Election (January 20, 2005)

Between 40 and 50 percent of the Iraqi population live in areas where "insecurity will restrict voting," according to the Sydney Morning Herald. Combined with an estimated Sunni voter turnout of as low as 10 percent, these factors will result in too few votes for a legitimate election. US officials, however, "really encourage people not to focus on numbers."

Iraqi Elections: Farce of the Century (January 18, 2005)

"Under the Vienna Convention, an occupying force has no right to change composition of occupied territories socially, culturally, educationally or politically." This makes the Iraq elections illegal, according to the Centre for Research on Globalization. Widespread intimidation of voters, nonexistent security for polling stations, and severely incomplete electoral lists add up to "a farce of historic proportions."

Electoral Lists (January 12, 2005)

Informed Commenthas a comprehensive list of all the parties, coalitions and individuals taking part in the January 30, 2005 elections in Iraq. Dr. Fayid Ayyar, head of Iraq's Supreme Commission for the Elections, announced that 75 "political entities" and 25 "single-individual political entities" will compete in the ballot, and counted "nine coalitions with a total of 49 political entities."

Iraq's Elections and the Paradoxes of Arab Reform (January 11, 2005)

Several Arab leaders have urged Iraq's Sunnis to abandon their opposition to the elections and participate in the vote on January 30, 2005. This opinion piece claims that Arab autocracies encourage democracy in Iraq "because they do not want it spread to their countries." According to Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa, a Sunni boycott in Iraq has the potential to destabilize the entire Middle East, including many of the autocracies and monarchies the League represents. (Daily Star - Lebanon)

A Bridge to Iraq's Future (January 7, 2005)

The author of this Washington Postopinion piece, a former legal adviser to the Coalition Provisional Authority and the US embassy in Baghdad, claims "broad agreement exists regarding the basic structures of government after elections." He foresees adequate minority representation and believes "the center of power in post-election Iraq will enjoy support across the political spectrum." The piece fails to mention, however, that many Iraqis are unlikely to support a US-backed "political spectrum."

Election Frenzy (January 6, 2005)

Al-Ahramprovides a detailed description of the electoral system in Iraq, the parties competing for a seat on the National Assembly as well as on the local governorates. This article also speculates on the outcome of elections and argues that the public does not know many candidates listed on the ballot, paving the way for a victory for interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi.

Some 1 Million Overseas Iraqis May Vote (January 5, 2005)

An estimated one million Iraqi expatriates in 14 countries can cast absentee ballots for nationwide elections in their homeland, but out-of-country voting may prove to be complicated and frustrating. Many expatriates will have to travel hundreds of miles twice in two weeks to register and vote, and are uncertain whether they are eligible to participate in the ballot. (Associated Press)

Al Yawar Calls on UN to Review Election Date (January 5, 2005)

Concerned about ongoing violence in the country, Iraq's President Gazi Al Yawar has called on the UN to assess whether nationwide elections should be postponed. Iraq's UN-endorsed temporary constitution foresees elections by January 30, 2005 at the latest, and the world body maintains that only Iraq's Electoral Commission can decide on delaying the vote. (Reuters)


Platform of the United Iraqi Alliance (December 31, 2004)

This article provides a list of all the parties included in Grand Ayatollah Sistani's predominantly Shiite coalition, as well as an overview of its basic principles and demands. The United Iraqi Alliance, which will likely form the next Iraqi government, advocates US withdrawal from Iraq and envisages policies contrary to "what Mr. Bush and Mr. Rumsfeld and Mr. Wolfowitz imagined." (Informed Comment)

Bin Laden Votes in Iraq and Shoots Himself in the Foot (December 28, 2004)

In a message broadcast on Arabic network Al-Jazeera, Osama Bin Laden called for a boycott of the Iraqi elections and praised Jordanian terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi , the alleged mastermind behind a growing insurgency. But Bin Laden's message will unlikely find resonance with Iraqis, who strongly support Iraq's widely respected (pro-election) religious leader Grand Ayatollah Sistani,. "If Bin Laden had been politically clever", this article argues, "he would have phrased his message in terms of Iraqi nationalism." (Informed Comment)

US Ponders Election Pledge to Iraqi Sunnis (December 27, 2004)

Concerned about a possible civil war and an increased insurgency, Washington is willing to "play with the end result" in nationwide elections in Iraq. Bush administration officials announced that a lack of Sunni representation in a new government could prolong violence in Iraq and considered reserving a few "high-level posts" in the next Iraqi government for Sunni Muslims. The move would further undermine the credibility of the elections. (Guardian)

Foreign Team Will Watch Vote in Iraq From Jordan (December 23, 2004)

A team of international election observers will monitor voting in Iraq from the safety of Amman, arguing that electoral administrators can get "an exceedingly good idea of what is going on, without actually being there." The decision to base the "assessment mission" in the Jordanian rather than the Iraqi capital has caused controversy. UN Head of the electoral assistance division Carina Perelli said she "could not recall another significant case when important elections had no international observers." (New York Times)

Quiet, or I'll Call Democracy (December 22, 2004)

The US has launched the "Iraqi Women's Democracy initiative," which will support US-friendly organizations such as US Vice Presidential wife Lynn Cheney's "Independent Women's Forum." The effort, an attempt to involve women in Iraq's elections, adds insult to US-inflicted injury by depicting Iraqi women as "powerless victims […] in need of liberation." For Iraqi women, liberation comes in the form of cooperation with the US-UK occupiers. (Guardian)

The UN's Electoral Mr. Fix-It (December 21, 2004)

Carlos Valenzuela, Colombian Chief Electoral Official in Iraq, comments on the UN's role in Iraq's January 2005 elections and dismisses claims that the UN is simply trying to clear up a "US-created mess." Valenzuela admits that the elections will not be perfect, but believes in holding credible, full elections in Iraq. (Los Angeles Times)

Controversial US Groups Operate Behind Scenes on Iraq Vote (December 13, 2004)

As the Iraqi elections approach, critics raise concerns over the involvement of organizations such as the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI) and its republican counterpart, the International Republican Institute (IRI). Both the NDI and the IRI assert that they have no interest in the outcome of the elections but US foreign policy experts have labeled both organizations "extensions of the US State Department." (NewStandard)

Iraq, Ballots and Pistachios (December 12, 2004)

In this conservative New York Timeseditorial, Thomas Friedman lashes out at the European Union and the Arab League and wonders why it is "such a hard call for Arabs and Europeans to figure out on whose side they should be." Friedman criticizes the Arab League for its lack of involvement in the Iraqi elections, arguing that the League repeatedly called for a representative government in Iraq, but has done "virtually nothing […] now we're trying to help elect one that would be the most representative in the Arab world."

Al-Dhari Explains Sunni Arab Boycott (December 10, 2004)

In an interview, popular Sunni Arab politician Hareth al-Dhari of the Association of Muslim Scholars explains why his party plans to boycott Iraqi elections in January 2005. Al-Dhari believes the Sunni resistance has influenced the preparations for elections significantly and claims cooperating in the US-orchestrated elections cannot result in freedom and independence. (Informed Comment)

Iraq, Jordan See Threat to Election from Iran (December 8, 2004)

King Abdullah of Jordan and Iraqi President Ghazi Yawar have accused Iran of "coaching candidates and political parties sympathetic to Tehran" in the run-up to the Iraqi elections in January 2005. Both leaders expressed their concern over the potential emergence of a Shiite-dominated Islamic Iraqi government, which might destabilize countries with substantial Shiite populations such as Lebanon. (Washington Post)

Ottawa Shifts Role in Iraq Vote (December 7, 2004)

Canada will host an international conference to ensure careful oversight of the Iraqi elections and discuss ways of assessing whether the elections are free and fair. Due to the precarious situation in Iraq and the limited number of election monitors on the ground, representatives from independent electoral commissions will have to determine alternative criteria to verify the validity of the polls. (Globe and Mail)

Sistani Pulls Main Shia Parties Together to Dominate Iraq Poll (December 1, 2004)

Iraq's Shia parties have formed an alliance that will likely dominate the Iraqi elections. Under the leadership of Ayatollah Sistani, a special committee is compiling a list of candidates for a national assembly. Favorites include leaders of the Islamic Dawa and the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution, as well as representatives of hardline Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr and the moderate Islamist Fadhila Party. (Guardian)

Fortress Iraq (December 2004)

The US-engineered Iraqi elections will likely result in an ethnically and religiously divided nation and destroy the Arab-Muslim affiliation that unites Iraqi citizens. This article argues that Iraq's Arab-Muslim identity is crucial to the security, stability and unity of Iraq and to cooperation with countries in the region. The authors warn against the emergence of a "fortress Iraq," and call on the country to stand "in solidarity with its brothers." (Al-Ahram)

Think Small in Iraq (November 30, 2004)

This New York Timesop-ed piece supports an alternative to Washington's "Baghdad-centric" approach to elections in Iraq. Rather than focus on nationwide elections, which the Sunnis plan to boycott and thus deny legitimacy, the US occupiers and their Iraqi allies should focus on devolving power to provincial councils that can exercise real power. If local authorities that are directly answerable to their communities can't hold Iraq together, then "what hope does a central body in Baghdad have?"

Iraqi Election Creates Unusual Alliances (November 29, 2004)

In an attempt to delay Iraqi elections scheduled for January 2005, Sunni Arabs and Sunni Kurds formed an exceptional alliance against Shiite Arabs. Sunni Arabs want to boycott voting in January and deny legitimacy to the new, most likely Shiite dominated government. Kurds have an interest in delaying municipal elections, which will be held parallel to those at the national level. A delay of up to six months would allow Kurds to return to the oil-rich city of Kirkuk before voters decide whether the city will join the Kurdish autonomous region. (Associated Press)

Iraq Conference Calls for Full Voting (November 23, 2004)

At the international conference on Iraq's future in Egypt, Iraq's Foreign Minister Ahmad Abu al-Ghait called on Iraqis to fully participate in the January 2005 elections. French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier re-emphasized the issue of troop withdrawal, saying "for the sake of peace, Iraqis must know that the troops will go." (Aljazeera)

RTI International's Multi-Million Contract to Foster Local Government Remains on Track (November 13, 2004)

Despite increased violence and uncertainty about elections in January 2005, research institute RTI's local governance project in Iraq remains up and running, its project manager says. The deteriorating security situation severely restricts mobility for project workers and RTI cannot operate in Fallujah and Ramadi. The non-profit research institute aims to set up local elected councils but will not be involved in national elections. (Observer)

Sunni Party Leaves Iraqi Government Over Falluja Attack (November 9, 2004)

The Iraqi Islamic Party, which the US held up as a model for Sunni participation in a future Iraqi government, has withdrawn from the interim government in protest against the attacks on Fallujah. The move represents a first step towards a major Sunni boycott of elections scheduled for January 2005 and could undermine the legitimacy of a newly elected government. (New York Times)

EU Chief Casts Doubt on Iraq Elections (November 8, 2004)

The EU's High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana expresses little hope for elections in Iraq in January 2005. His statement highlights the tension between several EU governments and the US-backed Iraqi government. Brussels insists on exhausting the political process before taking action but meanwhile Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi has authorized an assault on Fallujah. (Aljazeera)

Iraqi Officials to Allow Vote by Expatriates (November 5, 2004)

Iraqi electoral officials will allow millions of Iraqis living outside the country to vote in the January 2005 elections. The UN and the US strongly oppose the decision because it will complicate the election process and they fear it will lead to "irregularities and fraud." The inclusion of mainly Shiite expatriate votes will likely benefit Shiite clerics in their bid for power. (New York Times)

US Is Said to Urge Its Iraqi Allies to Unite for Election (October 25, 2004)

Despite claims of bringing democracy and freedom to Iraq, the US administration sees "the arguments for stability now outweighing the calls for democracy" and believes Iraq needs "a scaled-back democratic process." US Government officials urge the six major parties on the US-appointed Iraqi Governing Council to unite at the expense of independent parties. The US-backed coalition would essentially amount to a copy of the Iraqi Governing Council. (Los Angeles Times)

Is the IRI Spinning the Poll (October 24, 2004)

A summary of a poll conducted by the International Republican Institute presents a false picture of Iraqis' sentiments concerning elections in January 2005. The Institute, which is closely related to the US Republican Party, omitted the names of popular Islamic parties in order to deny the trend towards theocratic voting. The sample significantly undercounts Shiite views and the author places very few points in context. (Informed Comment)

History Cleansed to 'Re-educate' Ba'athists (October 23, 2003)

Iraq's Supreme National Commission for De-Ba'athification organized a number of lectures for senior members of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party. The party members lost their jobs when Saddam's regime fell but the "De-Ba'athification course" will allow them to return to their jobs once they renounce the party. (Guardian)

UN, Iraq Clash Over Elections (October 21, 2004)

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's refusal to send a large contingent of UN monitors to Baghdad has outraged the Iraqi and US governments. Annan says he will not send staff into an increasingly violent Iraq to legitimize elections, which might exclude insurgent-controlled provinces from voting. The Secretary General also emphasized that the elections belong to the Iraqis, so the UN will offer "support and advice" but not plan or organize the elections. (Inter Press Service)

Iraqi Faults UN on Lack of Staff to Aid in Voting (October 20, 2004)

In a statement, Iraq's Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari openly criticized the UN and said that the organization had not sent enough staff to prepare and monitor the January 2005 elections. US and Iraqi leaders want elections to proceed but head of the electoral assistance division at the UN Carina Perelli says she has witnessed very few signs of open campaigning. Party leaders are meeting privately with potential candidates but are waiting for the security situation to improve before they resume political activity. (New York Times)

Neo-Baath v. the Shiites (October 15, 2004)

Head of the Iraqi secret police, Muhammad Abdullah Shahwani, claims to have documents that prove that the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) and its militia, the Badr Corps, helped assassinate over a dozen members of the Iraqi secret police in support of Iranian hardliners. SCIRI officials have denied the allegations and view them as a neo-Baathist attempt to damage SCIRI's prospects in the January 2005 elections and as an excuse to target Iran. (Informed Comment)

Iraqis Fearing a Sunni Boycott of the Election (October 10, 2004)

Whereas Iraq's Shiite majority, under leadership of Grand Ayatollah Sistani, is eager to see elections go ahead in January 2004, leaders of the Arab Sunni minority say they have failed to generate enthusiasm for the elections. Outraged by the chaotic security situation and suspicious of the US, Sunni Arabs are unlikely to vote in nationwide elections. (New York Times)

Bush to Aid 'Moderate' Parties in Iraq Election (October 9, 2004)

According to State Department documents, the Bush Administration will provide "strategic advice, technical assistance, training, polling data, assistance and other forms of support" to Washington-friendly candidates for the elections in Iraq scheduled for January 2005. The news comes after lawmakers objected to a White House plan to launch a covert CIA operation to aid a US-backed political party building program. (Reuters)

Iraq Chief Gives a Sobering View About Security (October 6, 2004)

In his first speech before the interim National Assembly, Prime Minister Ayad Allawi expressed deep concern over the country's instability. Despite optimism in a previous speech at the White House, Allawi now painted a grim picture of the situation in Iraq, admitting there are significant obstacles to reconstruction and security. (New York Times)

Militant Cleric Considers Entry into Iraqi Politics (October 3, 2004)

Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr is considering involving himself and his movement in the elections scheduled to take place in January 2005. Sadr's aides say Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani supports the resistance leader's political ambitions, hoping they will help secure a majority of Shiites after the elections. (New York Times)

You Can't Bomb Beliefs (September 30, 2004)

Naomi Klein asserts that the choice in Iraq's upcoming elections is not between Sadr's brand of religious fundamentalism and a secular democratic government. Rather, Iraqis can choose between open elections or rigged elections. Although open elections risk handing over power to fundamentalism, they also allow moderate religious groups to organize themselves and as such represent a step in the direction of democracy. Rigged elections on the other hand will leave the country in the hands of US imperial forces. (Nation)

Iraq Study Sees Rebels' Attacks as Widespread (September 29, 2004)

In a speech at the White House, Iraq's interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi said he was confident that out of Iraq's 18 provinces, "14 to 15 are completely safe and ready for elections in January. According to Allawi the other provinces suffer from "pockets of terrorists", but statistics collected by private security firms show that the resistance is much more widespread than the "isolated pockets" described by US and Iraqi officials. (New York Times)

France Says Iraq Conference Should Study US Withdrawal (September 28, 2004)

After dismissing the idea of an international conference to promote reconstruction and peacekeeping efforts, the US has now announced it supports such a conference. French Minister of Foreign Affairs Michel Barnier outlined several conditions for France to take part in the conference: the conference agenda must include the subject of withdrawal of the occupying forces, organizers must involve the UN and they must invite Iraqi resistance groups. (Agence France Presse)

Who Are the Progressives in Iraq? The Left, the Right, and the Islamists (September 23, 2004)

The US supported the establishment of an Iraqi National Council so that it could influence the composition of an electoral oversight body and monitor the elections in January 2005. But recent balloting showed that Washington may be left without an ally in the electoral oversight body, with delegates from the Assembly for Islamic Revolution in Iraq and the Iraqi Communist Party taking the lead in the vote. (Foreign Policy in Focus)

Top Shiite Cleric Is Said to Fear Voting in Iraq May Be Delayed (September 23, 2004)

Iraq's most powerful Shiite leader, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, has expressed his concern over elections in the country scheduled for January 2005 and in particular over the representation of Shiites. Faced with the possibility of an under-representation of Shiites, Ayatollah Sistani may withdraw his support for the elections. (New York Times)

Doubts Rise Over Partial Elections (September 22, 2004)

Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi announced that elections in Iraq will take place in January 2005 despite fears that substantial areas of the country under rebel control will not be able to vote. His statement raises questions about the legitimacy of elections in which whole communities will not participate. (Inter Press Service)

Violence May Force Iraq to Bypass Hotspots in Election (September 6, 2004)

US officials in Iraq announced a plan that bars certain hotspots of "anti-US militancy," such as the city of Fallujah, from participating in the country's national elections in January 2005. Critics argue that excluding Iraqis from voting would "detract from the election's credibility, foment discontent in Iraq and leave other countries reluctant to acknowledge any government chosen in the vote." (Los Angeles Times)

New Iraqi Council Chosen in Undemocratic Assembly (August 23, 2004)

Iraq's National Conference, touted as the country's "first democratic election," ended with a four-judge panel appointing the 81 members to the National Council. Under conference rules unknown to the participants, delegates had to propose entire slates of 81 members to stand for Council seats. Individuals not affiliated with political groups were disqualified from running for a post. In the end, in spite of bitter protests, only one pro-US slate was put forward and no votes were cast. Five political parties, all formed in exile during the reign of Saddam Hussein and backed by the US, dominate the Council. (New Standard)

National Conference Speaking for the Nation, But How Representative Is It? (August 17, 2004)

The rules governing the makeup of the National Council requires the 1300 delegates to elect 10 members from Iraq's tribes, 10 from among civil society activists, 21 from Iraq's governorates, 21 from political parties, and 11 from religious minorities, with eight spots reserved for "leading Iraqi personalities." However, many religious and nationalist groups are boycotting the conference, instead choosing to run in national elections in January 2005. (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty)

Iraqi Conference on Election Plan Sinks into Chaos (August 15, 2004)

A conference of 1,300 delegates assembled in Baghdad to elect 81 members of the 100 member national assembly. John Burns of the New York Timesreports that the convention quickly turned into "siege-like conditions," as 100 delegates threatened to walk out of the conference in protest over the US offensive against Moqtada al-Sadr in the Shiite holy city of Najaf.

Key Iraqi Conference Postponed amid Disagreements and Security Concerns (July 29, 2004)

Iraq's Interim Government postponed the national conference scheduled to begin on July 31, 2004 until mid-August. UN officials requested a month-long delay hoping to encourage wider participation and ensure proper preparation of the conference. Less that half of Iraq's 18 provinces have chosen delegates, while religious groups continue threats to boycott the process. (Public Broadcasting Service)

National Conference to Take Place amid Mounting Security Concerns (July 26, 2004)

The Iraqi National Conference, scheduled to begin July 31, 2004, will appoint members to Iraq's new National Council. The Council will oversee the work of the Interim Government, having the power to approve the national budget, veto legislation, and question ministerial policy. The National Council's mandate expires after national elections in January 2005. (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty)

The Uncertainty of Iraq's Transition (July 26, 2004)

How will the strategic interests of foreign powers affect the makeup and form of the new Iraqi state? This article examines how the influence of the Islamic states surrounding Iraq will counteract the desire of western states to secure oil reserves, resulting in the intensifying instability and uncertainty of the country. (Power and Interest News Report)

Iraq Conference Hits Snag Before Start (July 25, 2004)

Hundreds of Iraqis from the country's 18 provinces, as well as tribal, religious and political leaders, are assembling in Baghdad to appoint 80 delegates that will join 20 members of the former Iraq Governing Council, to Iraq's National Assembly. However, several influential constituencies, including Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, declined to participate, calling the process "undemocratic." (Associated Press)

The Government Rules Only in the Capital (July 22, 2004)

Violent attacks against US-led forces and Iraqis continues unabated, despite the implementation of martial laws, bans on demonstrations, and a new "Iraqi intelligence service." Robert Fisk argues that control of Iraq outside Baghdad by the "resistance" should not be a surprise since the new government has neither the police or military manpower and resources to exert any influence throughout the country. (Independent)

Iraq's Transition to Dictatorship (July 20, 2004)

Can Iraq overcome tensions between religious groups and form a stable government? The author argues that the country's multi-ethnic diversity will either produce some form of dictatorial regime, similar to that of Egypt or Syria, or the country will break up into undemocratic mini-states, with local governments and warlords staking claim to power. (Power and Interest News Report)

Iraqi Political Groups (July 6, 2004)

The overthrow of the Saddam Hussein regime sparked the emergence of some 200 political groups in Iraq, many formed by exiled leaders who returned to Iraq after the US-led invasion. This compilation by Radio Free Europe/Radio Libertyprovides insight into political parties in the country.

Sovereignty: Now the Games Really Begin (June 30, 2004)

Can Iraq's Interim Government stabilize the country after the "transfer of sovereignty?" Asia Timesargues that it will depend on the government's ability to downplay the presence and political maneuverings of Iran, Turkey and Israel – all of whom are working "behind-the-scenes" to shape the future government of Iraq.

Sovereign Iraqi Government Sworn Into Power (June 28, 2004)

The US-led coalition announced the "official" end of occupation, "transferring sovereignty" to Iraq two days ahead of the scheduled date of June 30, 2004. The Interim Government's major tasks include preparing for national elections in January 2005, and handling the day-to-day running of government institutions. (Globe and Mail)

US Edicts Curb Power of Iraq's Leadership (June 27, 2004)

Ahead of the June 30, 2004 "transfer of sovereignty," CPA Administrator Paul Bremer issued over 100 orders and regulations reforming Iraq's legal code and election laws as well as appointing "handpicked" individuals to influential positions within the interim government. Critics condemn Bremer's edicts and appointments as an effort to "exert US control over the country after the transfer of political authority." Will Iraq's Interim Government have any power come June 30, 2004? (Washington Post)

Sadr Changes His Role (June 16, 2004)

Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr announced plans to launch a political party with candidates running in Iraq's national elections in January 2005. The announcement comes as al-Sadr also agreed to conditionally recognize the new interim authority provided that the government clearly outlined a timetable for the withdrawal of all foreign troops from Iraq. Will al-Sadr's willingness to compromise help stem the violence? (Christian Science Monitor)

Islamic Conference Endorses Iraqi Government (June 15, 2004)

Islamic Conference Endorses Iraqi Government (June 15, 2004) The Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) unanimously adopted a resolution backing Iraq's interim government, and called for member states to assist in the reconstruction of the country. However, the OIC dismissed calls from US authorities requesting peacekeeping troop contributions to the "multinational force." (Associated Press)

Kurds Threaten to Walk Away From Iraqi State (June 9, 2004)

In a letter addressed to US President George Bush, Kurdish leaders Massoud Barzani and Jalal Talabani warned that failing to include the "Transitional Administrative Law" (TAL) in the UN Security Council resolution would result in the withdrawal of its members from Iraq's Government. US officials left out reference to the TAL after Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah al-Sistani threatened serious repercussions should it form part of the proposal. (New York Times)

Ration Cards to be Basis for Electoral Register (June 7, 2004)

The UN Electoral Assistance Mission to Iraq is working to ensure that food ration cards, issued under the Oil-for-Food programme, represent Iraqis who are alive and currently living in the country. Officials contend that the ration cards, along with national identification documents, are the most accurate source of information on families in Iraq, "since virtually every family has one." (Integrated Regional Information Network)

Iraqi Government Wins Vital Backing from Shi'ite Cleric (June 3, 2004)

Top Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani warned that the new government must act decisively to "erase the marks of occupation." The government's priorities must lie in "restoring security, providing basic services for all, seeking a new UN Security Council resolution granting Iraq full sovereignty and ensuring "free and fair elections" by January 2005. (Reuters)

Iraq's Interim Cabinet Sworn In (June 1, 2004)

Iraq's new Interim Government assumes immediate responsibility of governmental affairs after Iraq's Governing Council voted to "dissolve itself with immediate effect." The appointments follow days of continued opposition by US officials in Iraq to the selection of President. (BBC)

Interim Iraqi Government (June 1, 2004)

Thirty five members make up Iraq's new Interim Government, including a President and two Vice-Presidents, as well as a Prime Minister and a ministerial cabinet. Prominent names not part of the new government include Ahmed Chalabi, once US-favourite as the future leader of Iraq. (BBC)

Al-Yawer Named Iraq's New President (June 1, 2004)

The appointment of Ghazi Mashal Ajil al-Yawer as Interim President of Iraq comes after days of wrangling between CPA Administer Paul Bremer and the Iraqi Governing Council. US officials pushed for Adnan Pachachi as President, warning Council members against voting for al-Yawer, asserting that the US "would not recognize the choice." (Associated Press)

Will Iraq's New Prime Minister Have a Country to Run? (May 23, 2004)

Can Iraqis perceive a new interim government appointed by UN Special Envoy Lakhdar Brahimi as legitimate? David Richmond, Britain's Special Representative to Iraq, argues that the new Prime Minister must "convince Iraqis of all backgrounds that the interim government represents an end to occupation and a step towards elections next year." (Observer)

US Ends Payments to Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress (May 19, 2004)

The US government confirmed that it will not renew its program supporting the Iraqi National Congress (INC), headed by Ahmed Chalabi, that paid his group $335,000 a month over the last four years. The INC provided pre-war intelligence on Saddam Hussein's WMD program, most of which now appears misleading and fabricated. ( Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty)

Bomb Hits at Iraq's Handover (May 18, 2004)

Iraqi officials argue that the assassination of Iraq Governing Council member Izzedine Salim highlights the CPA's inability to provide adequate security for Iraqi officials. Observers also contend that the Salim's killing could deter potential moderates from accepting high-profile positions in Iraq's transitional government. (Christian Science Monitor)

A Benevolent Dictator for Iraq? (May 19, 2004)

King Abdullah II of Jordan suggests that installing a "strong military leader" as head of government could stabilize security in Iraq. King Abdullah believes that a military regime would instill law and order, setting the stage for elections in 2005. (United Press International)

Behind the Scenes, US Tightens Grip on Iraq's Future (May 13, 2004)

As Washington prepares for the June 30, 2004 "transfer of sovereignty" to an Iraqi government, CPA officials are "quietly building institutions that will give the US powerful levers for influencing nearly every important decision the interim government will make." These institutions include the creation of "commissions," run by US officials that will effectively govern all decisions made by their respective ministries. (Wall Street Journal)

Political Players to Figure Greatly in Interim Iraqi Regime (May 13, 2004)

Relenting to increased pressure from the White House and Iraq's Governing Council, UN Special Envoy Lakhdar Brahimi will include "political personalities" in the soon-to-be-named transitional government. Brahimi originally called for a government consisting of "technocrats" that would keep the ministries running but would not use their power to promote political agendas. (Los Angeles Times)

What Must Be Done Now (May 6, 2004)

Former British Envoy to Iraq Sir Jeremy Greenstock discusses Iraq's road to democracy and the challenges that lie ahead. Greenstock remains supportive of Blair and does not mention his well-known differences with Bremer as he analyzes the violence plaguing the country and outlines what roles the UN and the international community should play. (Economist)

Political Battle in Washington over Transfer of Sovereignty (April 29, 2004)

The June 30, 2004 "transfer of sovereignty" to an Iraqi government also marks an historic transfer of power in Washington: the shift of control of Iraqi affairs from the Pentagon to the Department of State. In January 2003, President George Bush chose the Pentagon, whose policy towards Iraq paralleled that of the White House. (Le Monde)

Powell Acknowledges Limited Sovereignty for New Government (April 27, 2004)

US Secretary of State Colin Powell confirmed that Iraq's transitional government, formed by UN Special Envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, will only receive "limited sovereignty." Powell contends that Iraq will "give up" some sovereignty thereby allowing US troops to operate freely throughout the country. (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty)

Iraqis Say Council-Approved National Flag Won't Fly (April 27, 2004)

The Washington Postreports that most Iraqis are opposed to the country's new flag chosen by the US-appointed Iraq Governing Council. In particular, Iraqis object to the pale blue color on the crescent, liking it to the dominant color of the Israeli flag.

Iraq Unveils New 'Inclusive' Flag (April 26, 2004)

The US-appointed Iraq Governing Council approved the country's new flag, consisting of a pale blue crescent on a white background and a yellow strip between two blue lines at the bottom. The flag, created by an Iraqi architect living in the UK, was chosen from among 30 entries submitted to the Council. (BBC)

US Right's Pet Iraqi to be Frozen Out (April 25, 2004)

Many high-ranking figures on the US-appointed Iraq Governing Council will not form part of the new Iraqi "caretaker government" after June 30, 2004, according to a new UN proposal. Such individuals include Ahmed Chalabi, the once favorite of both the Pentagon and Vice President Dick Cheney. (Observer)

Iraq's Enemy Within (April 10, 2004)

In forging a path to success, Iraqis say: "Choose the companion first, then the road." Haifa Zangana, an Iraqi-born novelist and artist, argues that the US-appointed Governing Council cannot deliver democracy to Iraq because the people of Iraq did not choose them. (Guardian)

Selling Iraq on a New Government (April 5, 2004)

The Coalition Provisional Authority awarded a $6 million contract to London-based public relations agency Bell Pottinger to mount a television campaign promoting participation in Iraq's "democratic process." Amid increased attacks against coalition forces, can Iraqis be convinced? (International Herald Tribune)

UN Steps Into Iraq Sovereignty Handover Debate to Spur Elections (March 30, 2004)

A UN Electoral Assistance team dispatched to Iraq will offer technical and logistical expertise in assisting Iraq's preparations for 2005 elections. The head of the team, Carina Perelli, states that in addition to stabilizing security in the country, the most pressing issues are "educating the electorate" and setting up an "independent electoral authority," where all Iraqis can attest to its legitimacy. (Daily Star)

Shiite Cleric Threatens to Shun UN Envoys in Iraq (March 23, 2004)

Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani contends that Iraq's interim constitution contains fundamental flaws that will precipitate further long-term instability in the country, leading to its partition and division. Sistani renewed calls for amending clauses in the constitution granting a veto to the deputy presidents, saying the document "lays the foundation for sectarianism in a future political system." (Washington Post)

The Reshaping of Sunni Politics in Iraq (March 18, 2004)

What is the future political role for Sunnis in post-Saddam Iraq? This article argues that the long-term stabilization of Iraq depends on the inclusion of Sunnis in a "truly representative sense," embracing and empowering leaders' participation in the development of the new Iraqi state. (Al-Jazeera)

Talking Points: The Iraqi Constitution (March 16, 2004)

The Institute for Policy Studiesargues that Iraq's interim constitution lacks credibility and legitimacy within Iraq and amongst the international community. Among their criticisms, the document fails to define fundamental steps required in choosing an interim government, and to state what powers will remain centralized and what devolves to the regions.

How US is Sowing Gridlock in Iraq (March 14, 2004)

Professor Juan Cole analyzes Iraq's interim constitution, highlighting two fundamental errors in the document. Cole argues that a "one house" parliamentary system coupled with a "multiple presidency," as well as the undefined role of religion and status of Sharia law, will deepen ethnic division throughout the country, discrediting "democracy" throughout the region. (Mercury News)

Tribal Leaders Say They Need Role in Iraq (March 10, 2004)

Tribal leaders throughout Iraq contend that their exclusion by the Coalition Provisional Authority in shaping the new government further discredits and de-legitimizes the political process. Historically, "centers of power" have rested with tribal leaders, commanding respect and obedience from tribal members. (Associated Press)

Iraq Moves a Step Closer to Self-Rule (March 9, 2004)

Shiites contend that a Kurdish-backed clause concerning the ratification of a permanent constitution and composition of the multiple presidency, effectively grants a veto to the Kurds. The Christian Science Monitorargues that this debate highlights increasing rifts among ethnic groups in the country, threatening to disrupt the drafting of a permanent constitution.

An Empty Sort of Freedom (March 8, 2004)

The Organization of Women's Freedom in Iraq opposes reference to Islam as a primary source of legislation as a blow to women's rights. The organization favors a secular constitution based on equal rights for men and women, separating religion from state and education as a guarantee long-term security in the country. (Guardian)

A Constitution Drenched in Blood (March 4, 2004)

Asia Timesargues that Iraq's new constitution fails to address two fundamental issues which has historically plagued Iraq, and which could precipitate a civil war: "Who will define the compatibility between secular legislation and Sharia, and how to ensure that no law in the new Iraq is contrary to either democracy or Islamic principles?"

Iraq Constitution Has Checks and Balances (March 1, 2004)

The new US-backed Iraqi constitution establishes Iraq as a Federal state, paralleling Canada, Brazil and India. It includes a 13-article bill of rights, enshrines Islam as the state religion, and recognizes the Kurdish dialect as an official language alongside Arabic. Will this charter stand the test of time? (Associated Press)

Iraqi Council Fights the Clock - and Itself (March 1, 2004)

Critics argue that by allocating seats on the Iraqi Governing Council (IGC) along religious lines, the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) caused the current impasse in drafting an interim constitution for Iraq. Instead, experts believe that IGC representation should have allocated positions among Islamists, nationalists and liberals. (Christian Science Monitor)

UN Report Warns Against Early Elections, Offers No Solutions on Transition (February 24, 2004)

UN Under Secretary General Lakhdar Brahimi's report concluded that direct elections in Iraq were not feasible by June 30, 2004, but failed to identify possible alternatives. The report also states that the UN confine itself to an "advisory" role, noting that it is up to Iraqis, not the CPA nor the UN, to determine Iraq's road to democracy. (New York Times)

The Political Transition in Iraq: Report of the Fact-Finding Mission (February 23, 2004)

The report submitted by UN Under Secretary General Lakhdar Brahimi details the findings of the UN election assessment team dispatched to Iraq and offers recommendations regarding future UN involvement in Iraq.

Plan for Caucuses In Iraq Is Dropped (February 20, 2004)

By declaring direct elections in Iraq unfeasible before June 30, 2004, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan says the UN is working with the US and Iraq in establishing a "caretaker government" which will assume authority in Iraq until direct elections are held. (Washington Post)

Iraqis Taste Democracy (February 18, 2004)

By using the oil-for-food ration list as the electoral roll, residents of Battha in Southern Iraq successfully elected a local council. The vote also reveals that all elected candidates are "non-extremists," supporting Ayatollah Sistani's claims that direct elections for the Iraqi Transitional Government are plausible. (Wall Street Journal)

Annan to Back US on Iraq Plan (February 18, 2004)

Officials expect UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to announce that direct elections in Iraq are not possible by June 30, 2004. With Iraqi objections to US election plans for a transitional government, and with the White House unwilling to postpone transfer of sovereignty to Iraq, can the UN find an acceptable solution? (Washington Post)

Sunnis Need Breathing Space Before Any Iraq Polls (February 13, 2004)

In a post-war political spectrum dominated by the Shiites and Kurds, Iraq's Sunni population is afraid of being "swept away by the Shi'ites." This article argues that the Sunni, traditionally associated with the Saddam Hussein regime, do not have established political leaders and will lack proper representation in the new Iraq. (Reuters)

UN Team in Iraq Seeks Third Way (February 9, 2004)

A UN election assessment team in Iraq aims at determining whether general elections are possible by June 30, 2004. The US is hoping that the UN will endorse its plans for a transitional government, quelling the calls by Ayatollah Sistani, a leading Shiite cleric, for free elections. (Christian Science Monitor)

UN to Send Expert Team to Help in Iraq (January 28, 2004)

Responding to the US and UK request, the UN is sending an elections team to Iraq. The team will determine if elections in the country are feasible by the US imposed deadline of June 30, 2004. In a dramatic policy shift, the US is hoping that the new UN role in Iraq will quell opposition to US plans as Iraq's transitional government is formed. (New York Times)

Iraq: Critical Days Ahead (January 26, 2004)

The Middle East Economic Survey argues that current US plans to hold caucuses selecting an Iraqi transitional government, only serves to marginalize dissenting groups thereby planting "the seeds of a civil war." Instead, the US should take the initiative "to bring all groups together "to reach a new social contract to replace the old one before the elections are held."

Of Course the White House Fears Free Elections in Iraq (January 24, 2004)

Washington opposes elections in Iraq fearing that an elected and representative government will choose to expel the US occupiers. Explaining the US argument that elections are not feasible, the Guardian argues only an appointed government "can be trusted to accept US troops and corporations."

IGC Turns the Clock Back On Women's Rights (January 21, 2004)

The Iraqi Governing Council's Decision 137 cancels Iraq's "Personal Status Law," now paving the way for the implementation of Islamic "Sharia" law. The Coalition Provisional Authority, which has veto power over the IGC, has yet to indicate whether it will accept or overrule the decision. (New Standard)

Why the US Is Running Scared of Elections in Iraq (January 19, 2004)

The Guardian argues that the US proposal to hold special caucuses establishing a government in Iraq goes against the very concept of democracy. With mounting objection from all religious groups in Iraq, why is the US pressing on with its plan? The Shi'a leadership fears "that the US wants to control the selection of a government because it thinks the wrong people will win."

Annan Signals He'll Agree to Send UN Experts to Iraq (January 19, 2004)

The US is conceding that the UN must play a vital role in Iraq's political process. The New York Times argues that if the UN does not accept the US concession, it may result in "fulfilling the frequent prediction of President Bush's that the UN risks becoming 'irrelevant' and going the way of the League of Nations."

US Joins Iraqis to Seek UN Role in Interim Rule (January 16, 2004)

The US, originally hostile towards the UN, is now finally conceding that its involvement in Iraq is critical to the transition to Iraqi sovereignty. The New York Times reports that the UN, wanting to help Iraq, does not "want it to be seen as merely giving in to an American plan."

In Iraq, Timing is Everything (January 13, 2004)

The Iraqi Ministry of Planning proposed a process of voter registration that allows for elections as early as September 2004, ensuring representation of all Iraqis. But the CPA considers this process as "too time-consuming" and insists on completing elections before May. With US presidential elections due in November and mounting pressure on the US for meaningful results, Foreign Policy in Focus questions the true US commitment to Iraqi democracy.

Annan Wants to Define UN Role in Iraqi Power Transfer (January 6, 2004)

The UN Secretary General offered a three-party talk to the Iraqi Governing Council and the Coalition Provisional Authority to define a UN role in transferring powers to an Iraqi transitional government. Voice of Americasays that the Governing Council immediately accepted the offer, while the CPA balked, arguing, "Iraqis, and not the US dominated coalition, [should be] at the forefront of any talks on their country's future."


Annan Prods US, Iraq for Answers (December 20, 2003)

The Associated Pressreports that UN Secretary General Kofi Annan is "clearly frustrated at not getting specific answers" from the Iraqi Governing Council and the occupation forces in Iraq. Annan stressed the need for greater clarification of the UN role before the proposed transition to Iraqi sovereignty in June 2004.

Al Sistani's Call for Democratic Elections (December 10, 2003)

Washington's plan for elections in Iraq ensures that US officials and their handpicked Iraqi Governing Council members can shape future political developments in Iraq. If the election would follow a thoroughly democratic path, the new Iraqi government would most likely run counter to US interests. (Power and Interest News Report)

The Iraq Tragedy: It's Too Late for the UN to Help Much (December 8, 2003)

This editorial argues that the UN could have aided an interim Iraqi government and fostered a constitutional system in the country, but no longer. The tenuous security situation may cause the UN to operate out of neighboring countries, preventing it from performing in a meaningful capacity. (International Herald Tribune)

Iraq's Shiites Insist on Democracy, Washington Cringes (November 30, 2003)

Grand Ayatollah Ali al Sistani argues that elected leaders, not clerics, should have the final authority to make laws in a democratic Iraq. Washington fears that it will have little control over an elected assembly, possibly resulting in a government "unfriendly" to the US. (New York Times)

UN Officials Are Waiting for the Other Shoe to Drop (November 16, 2003)

The Bush administration has decided to hasten the transfer of power to the Iraqis. But the move rekindles concern at the UN. The organization has limited staff in Iraq and worries that the US will "dump" Iraq into its hands. (New York Times)

Critical Collaboration: Empire versus Sovereignty in Iraq (November 2003)

The US exchanges the Iraqi Governing Council for an interim government earlier than scheduled. Foreign Policy in Focusargues that this is because the council has become "a little too independent" from the US.

Threading the Needle: UN Resolution 1511 and the Iraqi Occupation (October 16, 2003)

Ian Williams analyzes key statements from Resolution 1511, noting that the US-drafted resolution contains several promises of imminent transition to Iraq self-governance. Williams ironically notes that the White House may have put itself on a "slippery slope to a more genuinely multilateral approach." (Foreign Policy in Focus)

Ministers in Iraq's First Post-War Cabinet Named (September 2, 2003)

The US-appointed Iraqi Governing Council has selected a cabinet. But ministers will in fact have little power, as US occupation authorities will keep final control over Iraq. For many Iraqis unhappy with the appointment of opposition exiles, this step is only a "public relations exercise." (Independent)

Iraqi Council Gets Mixed Reaction (July 14, 2003)

This BBCarticle covers the reaction from various Arab newspapers about the creation of the Iraqi interim governing council. Some view the council as a step towards normalizing the situation in Iraq, while others vehemently reject it as a US-backed puppet government that does not truly represent the people.

Iraq Takes Key Step to Self-Rule (July 14, 2003)

The new US-backed Iraqi governing council has held its inaugural meeting. The Council will need to prove its legitimacy and avoid being seen as a US puppet, since many of its members are Iraqi exiles. (Christian Science Monitor)

Iraqis Say They Will Defy US On Council Plan (June 4, 2003)

Iraqi political leaders have vowed to push ahead with their plans of holding a national conference in order to select an interim government despite the disapproval of the US administration. Washington is planning to appoint an interim advisory committee against the wishes of the majority of Iraqis. (Washington Post)

US Increases Role in Picking Iraqi Leaders (June 2, 2003)

The US has canceled plans for a national conference among the people of Iraq. Instead, the occupying powers will assemble an alternative council to work quickly toward an interim government. (Los Angeles Times)

US to Appoint Council in Iraq (June 2, 2003)

The US will handpick an interim political council instead of allowing an open selection process. Ordinary people in Iraq view the change as a US effort to prevent Iraqis from assuming even nominal authority over their country. (Washington Post)

Iraqis Set Timetable To Take Power (April 29, 2003)

Iraqis representing most of the country's different religious, ethnic and political groups met at a US-organized meeting. They agreed to select an interim administration within a month that would assume responsibility for many day-to-day government functions. (Washington Post)

Iraqis Protest at Baghdad Talks (April 28, 2003)

Street protests by thousands of Iraqis and a boycott by leading Shia Muslims marred US-sponsored talks on the formation of a new government in Baghdad. (Guardian)

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