Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Iraq Elections: Tariq al Hashimi Wants More Representation for Exiles

The elections in Iraq are currently scheduled for January 18, 2010, but there have been lots of articles the past couple of months about the uncertainty as to whether they will really occur that soon.

One of the changes in the Iraq government that is scheduled for 2010 is an increase in the size of Parliament from 275 to 323 seats. In this morning's Post, Anthony Shadid reports that Vice President Tariq al Hashimi is not satisfied with the currently-planned allocation of the Parliamentary seats.

Al Hashimi argues that Iraqi exiles -- many of whom live in Jordan and Syria -- should be guaranteed the power to elect 15% of the members of Parliament, rather than 5% as is authorized under the proposed framework.

The issue is this: most of the exiles are Sunnis (having fled Iraq once Shiites came to power after the US invasion), and Hashimi -- the highest-ranking Sunni in the government -- wants to strengthen their role in the new government.

Shadid says that Kurdish groups are also not happy with the current framework for allocating Parliamentary seats and are talking about boycotting the elections.

359. Whatever happened to the oil revenue-sharing law that was seen as a key benchmark for US success in Iraq? Has it ever been passed?

360. Do al Hashimi and Nouri al Maliki get along? Do they have a better or worse personal relationship than, for instance, Nancy Pelosi and John Boehner?

361. Will Obama make a surprise visit to Afghanistan during his Asia trip (he's scheduled to be in South Korea today)? I imagine he will, and then he'll announce the new policy sometime in the middle of December.

362. How many American troops have been killed in Iraq in 2009 as compared to the prior years of the war?

363. At what point will anti-war activists organize a large scale protest (for instance, a march in Washington) against expanding the Afghanistan War? My prediction on this is that there will be a large protest in January, although in order to influence Obama's thinking you'd think it would come earlier.

Obama told Major Garrett, yesterday, that Guantanamo will not be closed in January; he refused to commit to a new deadline. This is the first time that he's admitted the original schedule will not be followed.

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