23 November 2005, Volume 8, Number 40
NOTE TO READERS: RFE/RL has launched an updated "Iraq Votes 2005" webpage. Visitors can find news, background, and analysis on the election, as well as English-language translations of Radio Free Iraq (RFI) interviews and reports, and commentaries from the Iraqi press. See http://www.rferl.org/specials/iraqelections
IRAQI RECONCILIATION CONFERENCE ENDS WITH PLEDGE TO MOVE FORWARD. Iraqi delegates to the 19-21 November Arab League-sponsored meeting on national reconciliation in Cairo vowed at its conclusion to undertake a series of trust-building measures ahead of a broader conference slated to be held in Baghdad early next year.
While the meeting promises to help move Sunni Arabs into the political process, it is unlikely to do much in terms of lessening the insurgency. Shi'ite delegates to the meeting refused to enter into any dialogue with Ba'athists or armed groups.
The position of armed groups loyal to the deposed Ba'ath Party remains unclear. Ayham al-Samarra'i, who claims close relations with such armed groups, said last week that the groups will not lay down their arms "until peace and accord are established in the country." Al-Samarra'i also contended that armed groups are willing to enter into talks with the United States, but not with the Iraqi government.
Sunni Islamist insurgents, whose ultimate goal is the establishment of an Islamic state in Iraq, have no interest in entering into negotiations with the Iraqi government, which they view as illegitimate.
Fugitive Jordanian terrorist Abu Mus'ab al-Zarqawi's Tanzim Qa'idat Al-Jihad fi Bilad Al-Rafidayn (Al-Qaeda Organization of Jihad in the Land of the Two Rivers) criticized the Cairo conference in a 20 November statement posted to the Internet on 21 November.
The statement called the conference a sellout sponsored by Arab states "which have been terrified by the spirit of jihad that runs through the [Arab community]."
"The goal is to drag Sunni Muslims into accepting the results of their filthy 'political' game, and to surround the jihad project whose results have become clear and whose flags are looming on the horizon," the statement said. "As for the [Shi'ites] with whom they want us to hold dialogue, we will be tough when calling them to account. For they have made up their minds, unified their front, and declared war on monotheism [referring to the Sunni jihad movement] and its people.... The only possible dialogue between us and them is the dialogue of the sword and seas of blood which they will pay for the crimes they have committed."
Delegates said the Cairo meeting laid the groundwork for future talks, with all of them pledging to cease blaming one another and to not use religious, political, or media platforms to incite hatred or division.
In a closing statement, delegates expressed their commitment to the unity, sovereignty, and independence of Iraq, and acknowledged that while resistance "is a legitimate right for all peoples, terrorism is not legitimate resistance," RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq (RFI) reported.
For Sunni Arabs, the meeting served as a step toward achieving several of their demands. Most notably, the Iraqi government acknowledged Sunni Arab resistance as legitimate, but it stopped short of condoning it. "Even though resistance is a legitimate right for all peoples, terrorism is not legitimate resistance. We thus condemn terrorism and the acts of violence, murder, and abductions that target Iraqi civilians and civil, governmental, and humanitarian organizations, national wealth and houses of worship and call for confronting this immediately," the final statement said.
Sunni Arabs also obtained a commitment from the government for "the creation of a program to end the mission of the multinational forces" in Iraq. Government leaders, however, maintained after the conference that any pullout of multinational forces would be contingent upon the security situation in Iraq. "The troops' pullout depends on the security situation in Iraq and we are continuously training the Iraqi forces so that they can fill the vacuum left by the coalition forces once they leave the country," Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Ja'fari told reporters in Cairo on 21 November, RFI reported.
Delegates also agreed on the need to release "all innocent prisoners not convicted by a court" and to investigate all "allegations of torture and bring those responsible for [torture] to justice."
Muhammad Bashar al-Faydi, a member of the Muslim Scholars Association, a Sunni organization, told MENA that the association objected to the wording of the final statement, which identified Iraq as democratic and federal. "Those added words would imply an approval of the content of Iraq's constitution, which the [association] has boycotted," al-Faydi told MENA.
Association spokesman Muthanna Harith al-Dari told Al-Arabiyah television on 21 November that the meeting "delivered a message to the entire world that Iraq has returned to its Arab fold by meeting at the Arab League headquarters in Cairo."
The conference appears to also have succeeded in carving out a greater role for the Arab League in Iraq's affairs, with the final statement calling on Arab states to establish a diplomatic presence in Iraq, forgive foreign debt, and provide humanitarian and reconstruction aid. For Sunni Arab league member states, the meeting's outcome signified an assurance on the part of Iraq's Shi'ite-led government that Iraq would not disavow its connection to the Sunni Arab world.
The final statement also called for the establishment of a preparation and monitoring committee comprised of Iraqi political forces, Arab League, and UN representatives. Arab League Secretary-General Amr Musa told reporters in Cairo on 21 November that the conference succeeded "by 70 percent" in solving differences among the Iraqi powers and factions. (Kathleen Ridolfo)
MAJOR PARTIES AND CONTENDERS FOR DECEMBER PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS.
Free Officers and Civilians Movement
Led by Najib al-Salihi
The Free Officers and Civilians Movement 's platform is based on national unity and democracy. The party has called for a review of the constitution; it also supports a rebuilding of the Iraqi army and security services. Al-Salihi has criticized the transitional government for not building an inclusive army, saying the current military is heavily reliant on Shi'ite and Kurdish soldiers. The movement has also called on the government to halt security operations in the Al-Anbar and Diyala governorates, which it says is harming civilians.
Future Iraq Grouping
Led by Ibrahim Bahr al-Ulum
Bahr al-Ulum and parliamentarian Muntasir al-Imarah withdrew from the United Iraqi Alliance (UIA) to form the Future Iraq Grouping (Tajammu Iraq Al-Mustaqbal).
Oil Minister Ibrahim Bahr al-Ulum claims the Future Iraq Grouping (Tajammu 'Iraq Al-Mustaqbal) unites "independent groups, clerics, tribal leaders, technocrats, intellectuals, and outstanding female activists in various fields," Radio Free Iraq reported on 30 October.
The grouping pledges to follow "a principle of close cooperation with others for the sake of achieving the main goal, which is the building of a free federal constitutional democratic Iraq that protects human rights, where law is the rule and where justice is independent."
Independent Grouping of Iraq's Competent People
Led by Ali al-Dabbagh
The 120-member "Kafa'at" [Competents] list reportedly includes a number of National Assembly members in addition to candidates from 15 of Iraq's 18 governorates. Al-Dabbagh said that he withdrew from the UIA in protest of that alliance's monopolization of power in the current government, where he claims positions were awarded based on membership rather than qualifications, Al-Iraqiyah television reported on 28 October. He has claimed however, that his coalition continues to support the UIA.
Al-Dabbagh told Al-Jazeera television that the platform is built on centrism and moderation; it supports a separation of religion from the state. The list also calls for and end to communal, national, and sectarian polarization and seeks to build a "culture of diversity" based on freedom of speech and freedom of choice.
Iraqi Accordance Front
Led by Adnan al-Dulaymi
The Iraqi Accordance Front (Jabhat Al-Tawafuq Al-Iraqiyah), although largely composed of Sunni Arabs, claims to be a nonsectarian-based coalition that includes nationalist and Islamic forces. It s comprised of three leading Sunni Arab groups: the Iraqi Islamic Party, led by Tariq al-Hashimi; the Iraqi People's Conference, led by Adnan al-Dulaymi; and the National Dialogue Council, led by Khalaf al-Alyan; as well as leading national figures, tribal chiefs, and other known figures, Baghdad's "Dar Al-Salam" reported on 17 November.
The front's platform is based on ending the "occupation" of Iraq and working towards a unified government. It calls for peaceful resistance to the occupation and a strengthening of national unity and an end to the "proportional power-sharing system based on sectarianism and ethnicity."
The front calls for a review of the constitution and an amendment to the articles that "seriously endanger Iraq's unity and its regional safety." It also calls for an end to human rights violations "by some Iraqi security agencies" and the release of "all detainees and prisoners of war." It also calls for a comprehensive national project that would improve public services and living standards.
The front supports the repeal of laws related to the dissolution of military institutions and de-Ba'athification, and has called for a law to provide "just compensation" to Iraqis whose person or property was damaged by the Iraqi government or multinational forces.
Iraqi Arabs Movement
The Iraqi Arabs Movement (Harakat Al-Iraqiyin Al-Arab) is led by former Iraqi politicians and academics. The list is against the monopoly of the military or security forces along sectarian lines and calls for a withdrawal of multinational forces from Iraqi cities, Al-Jazeera television reported on 8 November.
Iraqi Front for National Dialogue
Led by Salih al-Mutlaq
While some members of the National Dialogue Council opted to join the coalition list Iraqi Accordance Front, Salih al-Mutlaq and others from the council formed the Iraqi Front for National Dialogue. Al-Mutlaq told Al-Arabiyah television on 26 October that he and others refused to join the Iraqi Islamic Party in the Accordance Front because of the Islamic Party 's support for the constitution.
The Iraqi Front for National Dialogue (Al-Jabha al-Iraqiyah llhiwar al-Watani) is billed as a coalition that is not sectarian-based. "The majority of the National Dialogue Council insists that the list is a national list that includes Iraqis from Al-Basrah to Al-Sulaymaniyah," al-Mutlaq said. "There is no room for us to be narrow-minded and focus on a sectarian bloc or entity, because this constitutes great damage to the country's interests. We know that we may lose some votes. However, the national project must succeed," he told Al-Arabiyah television on 26 October.
Leading personalities on the list include Hasan Zaydan, Fakhri al-Qaysi, Fahran Hawwas al-Sudayd, and Mahmud al-Azzawi. Parties to the list include: The National Dialogue Council; the Iraqi National Front for a Free and United Iraq; the National Front for Iraq's Tribes; the Arab Democratic Front, which includes the Independent Iraqi National Bloc; the Arab Democratic Party; the Independent National Dialogue Council in Ninawa Governorate, which also includes the Turkoman Front, the Independent Turkoman Movement, and the Turkoman National Front; the Christian Democratic Party; and the Independent National Council in Salah Al-Din.
The list's platform is based on ending the occupation, rebuilding government institutions, and improving the economic and security situation in Iraq.
Iraqi Nation List
Led by Mithal al-Alusi
Al-Alusi, a Sunni Arab, announced his list in Baghdad on 7 November. The list's platform is nationalistic and rejects sectarian and ethnic identities.
The list calls for a revival of Iraq's economy, the rebuilding of the armed forces, strengthening the role of the judiciary, and solving public service problems. The list also calls for the "restoration of the dignity of university campuses" and the provision of social security "for all Iraqi citizens," RFI reported.
The Al-Alusi list also supports a ban on militias and judicial reform; it contends that the current judiciary has been politicized in favor of certain parties, RFI reported on 7 November.
Al-Alusi hinted that his list, if elected, would not support the presence of multinational forces on Iraqi soil, telling reporters: "Before this government demanded the prolongation [of the mission] of the international coalition, it should better consult the Iraqi parliament." He later told the Hizballah weekly "Al-Bayyinah" in an interview published on 12 November that he supports a strategic alliance with the United States that would include the building of U.S. bases in Iraq "to protect [Iraq's] borders" in return for the United States providing military training to the Iraqi army, education for Iraqi students in the U.S., and increased American investment in Iraq.
Al-Alusi told "Al-Bayyinah" that Iraqis should emulate the examples of deceased "revolutionaries" such as Muhammad Sadiq al-Sadr and Mullah Mustafa Barzani, saying: "Why do we not seek to make our symbols national rather than group symbols?" He also called for a crackdown on Ba'athist and Sunni Islamic insurgents in western Iraq.
Iraqi National List
Led by Iyad Allawi
The list's platform is based on national unity and it includes both Sunni and Shi'ite candidates. It seeks to build a democratic, modern, and open Iraqi society "that renounces sectarianism in political work and improves relations with Arab and neighboring countries."
The platform calls for increased security, economic development through the creation of jobs, a strong private sector, an end to corruption, providing free health care and medicine, education, improving the agricultural sector, and establishing a social security system that would provide for retired people as well as those families hurt by the regime of Saddam Hussein.
The list also calls for the establishment of a special program to benefit Iraqis in western areas of the country that were affected by the insurgency and a program to provide low-interest loans to home buyers.
Other parties to the Iraqi National List include the Iraqiyun List, led by Ghazi Ajil al-Yawir and Hajim al-Hasani; the Iraqi Communist Party, led by Hamid Majid Musa; the Independent Democrats Grouping, led by Adnan Pachachi (whose party failed to gain any seats in the last parliamentary election); the National Democratic Party, led by Nasir Kamil al-Chadirchi; the Arab Socialist Movement; and the Islamic Democratic Movement. Parliamentarian Husayn al-Sadr briefly joined the list but withdrew his participation on 14 November, saying he preferred to take the line of the Shi'ite religious clergy and support the political process in general while not lending his support to any one party or list.
Iraqi National House of Commons List
Led by Khadr Abd al-Aziz Hasan al-Duri
Al-Duri is a former Ba'ath Party member who held a number of security posts in the Hussein regime before leaving the party in 1993, Al-Arabiyah television reported on 14 November.
Al-Duri also served as governor of Baghdad and Karbala under the Hussein regime; his brother, Sabir al-Duri, was Hussein's director of intelligence in the 1990s.
The list describes itself as an independent, democratic group not affiliated with any party or government agency, representing intellectuals, businessmen, tribal chiefs, moderate religious leaders, and former senior officers.
Iraqi National Peace List
Led by Laith Kubba
The list, led by current government spokesman Laith Kubba, claims to be a liberal, democratic, nationalist list made up of some 75 candidates from 12 governorates, RFI reported on 13 November.
Kubba has contended that Iraqis want a road map for their future, with a strong leader whom they trust leading the way. The list calls for a "realistic program" that will unify Iraqi Arabs from Mosul to Al-Basrah.
The list proposes one Arab region spanning the entirety of Iraq south of Kurdistan that would act as a counterweight to the Kurdistan region in terms of political influence and revenues from the central government.
The list calls for the reform of state establishments, rights for women, the building of a strong economic infrastructure, a withdrawal of foreign forces from Iraqi cities, and compensation for those who "suffered losses" under the Hussein regime or subsequent administrations. The list also supports presidential elections through a direct ballot.
Iraq Pledge Coalition
Led by Rend Rahim
The Iraq Pledge Coalition (Tahaluf Ahd Al-Iraq) was established by a group of leading Iraqi women. The coalition advocates a "constitutional, democratic, federal, and balanced Iraq that guarantees all of its sons and daughters citizenship, rights, freedom, and a better future."
The coalition, if elected to parliament, will work to amend the 39th article of the constitution, which refers to the personal status law (see http://www.rferl.org/specials/iraqelections). Other leading figures in the coalition include activist Safiya al-Suhayl, and Minister of Women's Affairs Azhar al-Shaykhali.
Kurdistan Coalition List
Led by Mas'ud Barzani
The Kurdistan Coalition List is headed by the two leading Kurdish parties: the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP). It also includes smaller Kurdish, Turkoman, Assyrian, and Chaldean parties, and independent figures such as Kurdish parliamentarian Mahmud Uthman. The Kurdistan Islamic Group joined the alliance in November, while four parties withdrew from the list: the Kurdistan Islamic Union, the Kurdistan National Democratic Union, Bayt Nahrayn, and the Kurdistan Peasants Party.
The Kurdistan Islamic Union cited the union's objection to the PUK and KDP's dominance over political life in Kurdistan as the reason for its withdrawal from the coalition. Likewise, Kurdistan National Democratic Union head Ghafur Makhmuri said his party withdrew because it did not want to take part in elections "without any privilege."
Kurdistan Islamic Union
Led by Saladdin Muhammad Bahaddin
The Kurdistan Islamic Union (Yakgrtui Islami Kurdistan) withdrew from the Kurdistan Coalition List in protest against the influence of the two leading parties -- the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) -- in the region's politics. The union claimed that the KDP and PUK falsely reported a high voter turnout in support for the referendum on the constitution in Kurdistan.
In a 19 October statement posted to its website (http://www.kurdiu.org), the union said that it is its democratic duty to "not to take part in the [UIA] alliance [that has led] to a stagnation of political life, a [weakened] opposition voice and [a] narrowing [of] the democratic game."
For more information on the list's withdrawal from the Kurdistan Coalition, see union member Abd al-Rahman Siddiq Karim's interview with RFI (http://www.rferl.org/featuresarticle/2005/11/901b290d-e05d-4bec-88cf-c98c74fd05c8.html).
Led by Yunadim Kanna
The Mesopotamia (Al-Rafidayn) List is headed by Assyrian Democratic Movement head Yunadim Kanna and includes 75 candidates.
The list calls for national unity and the settling of conflicts away from religious and sectarian fanaticism. It supports the rule of law, promoting security and stability, rejecting terrorism, and achieving civil peace, Kanna said upon the announcement of his list, RFI reported on 10 November. Saying the list represents marginalized Iraqis, Kanna voiced support for women's rights and the amending of the Iraqi Constitution.
National Congress Coalition
Led by Ahmad Chalabi
The coalition includes Shi'ite and Sunni candidates and bills itself as a moderate alternative to the conservative United Iraqi Alliance (UIA). Chalabi, who ran on the UIA list in the January elections, said he left the UIA because he disagrees with its calls for an Islamic state in Iraq. "It is obvious that there is a need to have a list that represents a large segment of the Iraqi people who are faithful Muslims [and] who also believe in a democratic, pluralistic, and a federal system of government. They respect the religious authority but they do not recognize the political Islamic ideology," he said (see "RFE/RL Iraq Report," 4 November 2005).
Other members to the National Congress Coalition include the Constitutional Monarchy Movement, led by Sharif Ali bin al-Husayn; Justice Minister Abd al-Husayn Shandal and former UIA member and parliamentarian Salama al-Khafaji; as well as moderate political and religious figures such as Sheikh Fawwaz al-Jarba.
National Democratic Coalition
Led by Abid Faysal al-Sahlani
The list calls for the development of an active opposition movement and the building of a strong civil society.
It calls for amending the constitution in order to "harmonize the ambitions" of Iraqis, said al-Sahlani, a parliamentarian in the transitional government, RFI reported on 12 November.
National Forces Parliament
Led by Hazim al-Sha'lan
Al-Sha'lan is currently wanted on corruption charges related to his tenure as defense minister in the interim Iraqi government, and it is unclear whether he will actually be allowed to run in the elections. Amman's "Al-Dustur" reported on 31 October that the list includes 572 candidates from parties such as the Democratic National Forces Congress, the Independent Iraqi Tribes Group, the Al-Da'wah Party -- Izz al-Din Salim Wing, the Democratic Revival Movement, the Expatriate Academics Group, the National Unity Movement, the Southern Arab Citizens Group, the Educated People's Unified Group, and the Iraqi Arabism Champions.
National Reconciliation and Liberation Bloc
Led by Mish'an al-Juburi
This Sunni Arab-dominated National Reconciliation and Liberation Bloc (Kutlat al-Musalah al-Wataniyah Wa al-Tahrir) is led by parliamentarian and former Ba'athist Mish 'an al-Juburi. The list reportedly includes over 100 candidates from eight governorates.
The list vows to cancel all laws that are against the national interest; it claims the constitution in its current form seeks to divide the Iraqi people.
The list pledges to support Iraq's national and pan-Arab identity, end "the occupation" and force the withdrawal of multinational forces from Iraq, build strong relations with the Arab and Islamic world, free the economy from its impediments, and manage national wealth through the central government, giving equal shares to all citizens.
It also pledges to end unemployment and reduce the salary gap between workers as well as promoting reconciliation through dialogue.
If elected, the list will pursue and prosecute those involved in government corruption since the fall of the Hussein regime. It will also work to support the victims of de-Ba'athification and former army officers by lobbying for their return to work with back pay. The list supports women's rights, religious freedom, and the provision of free health and social services for all Iraqis, according to its newspaper "Al-Ittijah al-Akhar" (http://www.alitijahalakhar.com).
Sun of Iraq List
Led by Tawfiq al-Yasiri
The Sun of Iraq (Shams Al-Iraq) list is led by Tawfiq al-Yasiri, the head of the Iraqi National Coalition. Al-Yasiri, a former Ba'athist, was kidnapped on 17 November in Baghdad and released two days later. There is no other information available about this list.
United Iraqi Alliance
Led by Abd al-Aziz al-Hakim
The UIA includes supporters of Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr -- who ran as independents in the January election -- as well as representatives from 16 other parties: the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), the Islamic Al-Da'wah Party (both branches), the Islamic Virtue Party, the Badr Organization, the Justice (Al-Adalah) Party, the Islamic Hope Organization, the Hizballah Movement in Iraq, the Masters of the Martyrs Movement, the Central Grouping Party, the Iraqi Turkoman Loyalty Movement, the Islamic Union of Iraqi Turkomans, the Justice and Equality Grouping, the Reform and Construction Gathering, the Iraqi Democrats Movement, and the Free Iraqis Party (see "RFE/RL Iraq Report," 4 November 2005).
There are 38 candidates from the Al-Sadr Bloc on the UIA list, according to the 16 November edition of al-Sadr's weekly "Al-Hawzah" -- including parliamentarians Baha al-A'raji and Qusay Abd al-Wahhab al-Suhail -- and Al-Basrah's Deputy Governor Salam Awdah al-Maliki.
The UIA platform calls for enforcing the Iraqi Constitution, promoting national unity, the de-politicization and reform of government institutions, the establishment of regional governments, the prosecution of Ba'athist criminals, providing basic services to citizens, improving economic conditions through investment and job growth, achieving social justice and improving living standards, guaranteeing freedom of speech, adopting a social security system, and providing free education at all levels.
Wataniyun (Patriots) Grouping
Led by Hatim Jasim Mukhlis
Hatim Jasim Mukhlis, secretary-general of the Iraqi National Movement, announced the formation of the Wataniyun (Patriots) Grouping at a 30 October press briefing in Baghdad, Radio Free Iraq reported the same day. The grouping includes: the United Iraq Council, Al-Ahrar Party, Al-Furatayn Bloc from Karbala, the Arab and Iraqi Tribes Council, and the Central Tribal Leaders of Iraq Council.
Mukhlis told reporters that the grouping's platform calls for the rebuilding of the Iraqi army, stripping armed militias of power, addressing the security crisis, battling unemployment, and dealing with administrative and financial corruption.
Written and compiled by Kathleen Ridolfo