Abadi seeks alliance with Popular Mobilization Units based on his terms

Updated 13 January 2018

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.

Arab News KSA female staff ratio up to 32% in 2017

Saudi media personality Muna AbuSulayman, center, with Arab News staff, from left, Huda Bashatah, Deema Al-Khudair, Lulwa Shalhoub Ana and Aseel Bashraheel. (AN photo: Ghazi Mehdi)
Updated 7 min 15 sec ago

Arab News KSA female staff ratio up to 32% in 2017

  • Arab News aims to become the first Saudi “gender-balanced” newspaper by 2020
  • The initiative known as “50:50 by 2020” will aim to cover all the newspaper’s bureaus and areas of operation

RIYADH: Arab News, the Saudi Arabia-based newspaper, boosted the ratio of female staff and contributors working in the Kingdom in 2017 to almost a third — compared to just 13 percent the previous year.

The results of Arab News’ “Gender equality meter” are published today as part of the newspaper’s stated aim to become the first Saudi “gender-balanced” newspaper by 2020.

In 2016, 87 percent of the newspaper’s staff and contributors in Saudi Arabia were men. Last year the number of women working for the paper within the Kingdom hit 32 percent.

The ratio of women working across the newspaper’s global editorial operations — including editorial staff in the Saudi, London and Dubai bureaus, regular Opinion writers, foreign correspondents and freelancers — stood at 31 percent in 2017. 

There is no global comparison for 2016 because the London and Dubai operations did not exist, and the Opinion section included much syndicated content. Overall comparative figures, and numbers for Arab News’ Southeast Asia bureau, will be published next year.

Arab News earlier this month outlined its aim to become the first newspaper in Saudi Arabia to have a gender-balanced newsroom — and it intends to achieve this goal in less than two years. The drive — referred to internally as the “50:50 by 2020” initiative — will aim to cover all the newspaper’s bureaus and areas of operation. It will involve active recruitment, training and career guidance which the paper will provide.