Thursday, November 11, 2010

Iraq Update: Finally the Formation of a Government?

Ayad Allawi, the leader of Iraqiya: What's their stance on the new Iraqi government?

There's a confusing article on the Washington Post's site tonight (here) about the negotiations to form a government in Iraq.

According to Karen DeYoung, an agreement was reached to appoint Nouri al-Maliki as Prime Minster and Jalal Talabani as President. However, the Iraqiya bloc (headed by Ayad Allawi) staged a mass walk-out of Parliament, and it's unclear from DeYoung's article whether the agreement remains in place or not:
The walkout dealt a setback to what was expected to be a turning point in the impasse that has paralyzed Iraqi politics since inconclusive elections in March. After the departure of Iraqiya, which won the most seats in Iraq's parliament by a slim margin, the remaining 232 lawmakers continued to a presidential vote without them - a move that observers feared could cause a national crisis. Thursday's session had been expected to go smoothly after all major blocs agreed late Wednesday to participate based upon mutual understandings. 
Before the walkout, the agreement provided for Iraqiya to appoint (1) the speaker of Parliament (Osama Nujaifi, who I have not previously heard of) and (2) the leader of a new "strategic council."

My last post about Iraq was in July, here.  I guess it's been almost the entirety of 2010 with the government there in a state of flux.  Are we fortunate that there hasn't been more violence?  The Post tonight describes Iraqiya as largely Sunni-backed, although Allawi is a Shiite and I thought the previous articles presented Iraqiya as the secular party.

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483.  I read this week that Jim Webb may replace Robert Gates as Secretary of Defense (I think Gates plans to retire in January).  Is Webb the leading contender?

484.  How is Webb's work on prison reform coming along? 

485.  Is George Allen the most likely Republican challenger to Webb in 2012?

The really big news yesterday is that Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson released the "big picture" proposals for the debt commission.  As far as initial reactions to their proposals: Sean Hannity and Rachel Maddow were both strongly opposed (from the right and the left), and I was very much in-favor.

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