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.


Pakistan, India coronavirus cases, deaths spike

Updated 10 min 3 sec ago

Pakistan, India coronavirus cases, deaths spike

  • Pakistan reports a record single-day spike in coronavirus-related deaths
  • In India, COVID-19 fatalities have passed 6,000 after registering 260 deaths overnight
ISLAMABAD/ NEW DELHI: Pakistan reported a record single-day spike in coronavirus-related deaths with 82 new fatalities and 4,688 cases that it says resulted from increased testing in the past 24 hours.
In India, COVID-19 fatalities have passed 6,000 after registering 260 deaths overnight.
The country registered 9,304 new cases in yet another record single-day spike in infections, raising its totals to 216,919 cases with 6,075 deaths, the India’s health ministry reported Thursday.
Pakistan’s outbreak has grown steadily since the country’s first case in February. Since then, 1,770 people have died and 85,264 have tested positive.
As many as 901 patients were listed in critical condition at hospitals Thursday. The country has barely 3,000 intensive care beds serving a population of 220 million.
Pakistan for the first time conducted over 20,000 tests in the past 24 hours. It has done more than 615,000 tests after increasing its testing capacity from only two labs in February.
The spike comes after Prime Minister Imran Khan eased lockdown restrictions over expert’s recommendations to maintain them to prevent the spread of the virus. Authorities have blamed people not adhering to social distancing regulations for the growing outbreak.
Meanwhile, the Indian health ministry said it was ramping up the testing across the country and has performed 4 million. It said the daily capacity was almost 140,000 tests done through 480 government and 208 private laboratories.
India’s infections have spiked in recent weeks, mostly in its cities. The coastal state of Maharashtra continues to be the worst affected, with 74,860 cases and 2,587 deaths. The state capital is densely crowded Mumbai, India’s financial and entertainment capital.
India is the seventh worst-hit nation by the pandemic.