Abadi seeks alliance with Popular Mobilization Units based on his terms

Updated 13 January 2018
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Abadi seeks alliance with Popular Mobilization Units based on his terms

BAGHDAD: Negotiations between Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Abadi and leaders of Shiite-dominated paramilitary troops to form an electoral alliance in the parliamentary and provincial election scheduled for May had not produced a final agreement on Friday, leaders involved in the talks told Arab News.
Gaining the support of the armed factions who fought Daesh alongside the government during the past three years is crucial for Abadi to gain a comfortable parliamentary majority to form the next government.
The negotiations, which started on Thursday, have been taking place in Baghdad between representatives of Abadi and leaders of the “Al-Fattah Alliance,” which includes the most powerful Shiite armed factions such as Badr Organization, Asaib Ahl Al-Haq, Kataib Huzballah and Jund Al-Imam in addition to the leaders of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq and the independents.
Abadi has been seeking to form the biggest electoral alliance along with “Al-Fattah,” which is headed by Hadi Al-Amiri, the commander of Badr Organization, while the leaders of the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) have been looking for protection.
“An alliance with Abadi is in the interest of both parties (Abadi and the PMU),” a senior PMU commander said on condition of anonymity to Arab News.
“The prime minister is the only one who can threaten the existence of us (the PMU). Legally he (the prime minister) is authorized to go after any of us and represents a source of concern.
“If he will be with us, this means we will be protected,” the commander said.
The negotiation teams of both sides on Friday had agreed on several issues, but who will head the final coalition and who will lead the electoral list in Baghdad are topics “still under negotiation,” leaders involved in the talks told Arab News.
“We are looking to form the biggest bloc in the next parliament, so Abadi is the best choice to achieve this,” Yazin Al-Joubori, one of the PMU commanders, told Arab News.
“The problem is that Abadi insists on being the head of the (final) coalition and the leader of the electoral list in Baghdad while (Hadi) Al-Amiri insists on giving him just one of them,” Al-Joubori said.
The guarantees which Abadi has to present to the PMU leaders also was one of the biggest obstacles as his negotiation team insists on “not giving any promises or concessions.” By the end of Friday’s meetings, no final agreement was made, leaders involved in the talks said.
“Abadi is well aware that he has a very strong card now and knows that the PMU factions need him, so he is negotiating from a position of strength,” a Shiite politician involved in the talks told Arab News on condition of anonymity.
“In all cases, this alliance will be made, but (looks like) it will be according to Abadi’s conditions.
“We have presented so many concessions, while he has refused to give us anything (in return).
“There is no other strong alternative (than Abadi). We need him so we have to go with him,” the leader said.


‘Broken Dinners, Postponed Kisses’ tells heart-wrenching story of Syria’s lost artists

Updated 15 min 36 sec ago
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‘Broken Dinners, Postponed Kisses’ tells heart-wrenching story of Syria’s lost artists

  • The 93-minute film follows six Syrian artists as they narrate their stories of displacement

BEIRUT: Filmmaker Nigol Bezjian premiered his latest movie “Broken Dinners, Postponed Kisses” with an intimate screening in Beirut on Wednesday night.
The 93-minute film — which features dialogue in Arabic, Armenian, German and English with English-language subtitles — follows six Syrian artists as they narrate their stories of displacement.
Bezjian, an Armenian born in Aleppo, Syria, spoke to Arab News about the experience of making the powerful film and said it was inspired by one of his previous works, “Thank You, Ladies and Gentlemen.”
“The movie is about Syrian refugees in the camps of Lebanon and it stayed with me,” he said about his previous film. “But I wanted to make a film about people in our region who had to depart their homeland, from the time of the end of World War I until today.”
That sparked the idea for his latest venture.
Bezjian chose six characters and honed in on their past experiences in what turned out to be an insightful peek through the keyhole into the lives of those who have been affected by the strife in Syria.
“The characters in the film are artists who work in different disciplines of art,” he explained.

“The film is something of a documentary, as the characters’ stories are all real, yet the concept that ties them all together was created by me,” the filmmaker continued.
Making an appearance are filmmaker Vartan Meguerditchian, actor Ayham Majid Agha, musician Abo Gabi, dancer Yara Al-Hasbani, painter Diala Brisly and photographer Ammar Abd Rabbo.
The film explores the inner feelings and reflections of people who had to leave their homes and be transported to a new environment, facing many challenges along the way.
Despite the sometimes heart-wrenching subject matter, Bezjian noted that the main challenges he faced while producing the film were budget and timeframe.
“The movie took two-and-a-half years (to make), so the main challenge was not to give up and keep the same spirit and momentum throughout this time,” he said.