Iraq’s Al-Fattah leaders deep in coalition talks with Muqtada Al-Sadr

Muqtada Al-Sadr, left, greets Shiite leader Ammar Al-Hakim on his arrival for their meeting in Baghdad. (AP Photo)
Updated 22 May 2018
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Iraq’s Al-Fattah leaders deep in coalition talks with Muqtada Al-Sadr

  • Negotiations between the leading Iraqi political forces to form the biggest parliamentary bloc started immediately after the official results were announced late on Friday.
  • The backing of Al-Fattah leaders is essential to nominate the next prime minister and form a strong and stable government.

BAGHDAD: Iraq’s Al-Fattah, the Iranian-backed parliamentary bloc that won the second-highest vote in the parliamentary elections, are in deep negotiations with the powerful Shiite leader, Muqtada Al-Sadr to form a coalition.

While it is too early to talk about ministerial posts, Al-Fattah has no veto over Haider Al-Abadi, the current prime minister, from taking a second term, the alliance’s senior leaders told Arab News on Tuesday.

Negotiations between the leading Iraqi political forces to form the biggest parliamentary bloc started immediately after the official results were announced late on Friday. The biggest coalition has the exclusive right to nominate the prime minister and form a government.

The backing of Al-Fattah leaders is essential to nominate the next prime minister and form a strong and stable government.

Ahmed Assadi, the spokesman of Fattah and one of its leaders, said negotiations were continuing with Sairoon, the alliance which came first in the election with 54 seats and is led by Al-Sadr.

“There is no way to form a government without either of them,” Al-Assidi said.

“Both (Fattah and Sairoon) represent the biggest alliances among the winning forces and enjoy great support in the street and the region, so there is no way to ignore one of them.”

The Fattah alliance, which is openly funded and supported by Iran, won 47 seats, which includes 22 seats won by Badr Organization, one of the most prominent Shiite armed groups and 17 seats won by Asa’ib Ahl Al-Haq, the second most powerful Shiite paramilitary group.
The relationship between Al-Sadr and Fattah leaders is tense as the cleric has accused Fattah factions of carrying out an Iranian agenda in Iraq.

Al-Sadr has said on several occasions in the last two weeks that he is ready to negotiate with all political forces except Fattah and the State of Law — led by former Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki.

But Al-Sadr’s tone has changed in recent days and he has come back to say that the coalition he is working on, is open to everyone.

Assadi and two other Al-Fattah leaders said talks have focussed on forming the biggest parliamentary bloc so far not the nomination of the prime minister.

“Our vision is to form a big parliamentary bloc first within the Shiite winning blocs, and then go to the Kurdish and Sunni (winning) blocs,” Assadi said.

Along with Sairoon and Al-Fattah, the talks involving prime minster Al-Abadi’s Al-Nassir alliance, Hikma, led by the prominent cleric Ammar Al-Hakim, Al-Wattiniya, led by Vice President Ayad Allawi, and Maliki’s State of Law.

The only thing that has been agreed upon so far is the formation of a national majority government, not a political power sharing administration. Also, the negotiators have agreed to postpone talking about positions, including the post of prime minister, leaders said.

“It is still too early to announce any coalition,” a senior leader of Fattah involved in the talks and talked told Arab News. “Talks are still focusing on the government program and the details are too many.

“Al-Sadr, Nassir and Hikma are insisting to nominate Al-Abadi but we clearly said that we have no veto against him, but that there would be no discussions over the names until we agree on all the other details.”


US wants to see a Yemen that is unified, stable and prosperous: ambassador

Updated 1 min 27 sec ago
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US wants to see a Yemen that is unified, stable and prosperous: ambassador

  • “We are making every effort to end the conflict in Yemen,” Tueller told a press conference in Aden
  • The ceasefire deal laid out the de-escalation of conflict in Hodeidah as an important first step for sustainable peace in Yemen

DUBAI: US Ambassador to Yemen Matthew H. Tueller on Tuesday said Washington was concerned about the situation in Yemen even as he reiterated the US’s continued support of the Yemeni government.
“We are making every effort to end the conflict in Yemen,” Tueller told a press conference in Aden, emphasizing Washington’s interest on Yemen’s unity and stability.
Tueller also expressed frustration by the delays and stalling by the Iran-backed Houthis in implementing the ceasefire agreement signed in Stockholm in December.
The ceasefire deal laid out the de-escalation of conflict in Hodeidah as an important first step for sustainable peace in Yemen.
“Some Yemeni groups are threatening neighboring countries with heavy weapons,” the American ambassador said, and he called for the adherence to international resolutions by banning the supply of weapons into the country.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is on a regional tour to push for a greater role for the Middle East Strategic Alliance, a US-sponsored Arab NATO-style bloc aimed at uniting Washington’s Arab allies against Tehran.