Shiite-Kurdish talks stall over sharing power in Iraq
Talks between the Shiite and Kurdish blocs that won the most votes in Iraq's elections stalled yesterday, dimming their hopes of agreeing...
Los Angeles Times
BAGHDAD, Iraq — Talks between the Shiite and Kurdish blocs that won the most votes in Iraq's elections stalled yesterday, dimming their hopes of agreeing on a new government before Wednesday's debut session of the newly elected national assembly.
A scheduled meeting between the Shiite Muslim-dominated United Iraqi Alliance and a coalition of Kurdish parties was postponed when the Kurds delayed their reply to a proposed power-sharing deal.
Participants in the talks gave varying interpretations of the delay, with one usually optimistic Shiite aide saying the effort had "stumbled" over some of the most contentious issues facing Iraq. One Kurdish official said the negotiations "have hit a dead end," while another said a deal could be near.
Jawad Maliki, a leader of the Dawa Party in the Shiite bloc, said the two blocs would continue their effort after the national assembly convenes if there is still no agreement on the shape and mandate of a government to replace the U.S.-appointed interim Iraqi leadership.
If the Shiite and Kurdish alliances can reach an agreement, they will have enough seats for the two-thirds vote in the assembly that is required to form Iraq's first democratically elected government. That government, led by a prime minister, would govern until the assembly rewrites the constitution and calls new elections as early as the fall.
Still unsettled, officials in both blocs say, are a precise division of Cabinet posts, the degree of autonomy for Iraq's three predominately Kurdish northern provinces, and the boundaries of the Kurdish region, home to 3 million of Iraq's 27 million people.
The Kurds want the region's boundaries redrawn now to include parts of oil-rich Kirkuk province, but the Shiites insist on leaving that decision to a constitutional government. The Shiites say they are resisting a demand that would require the army to get permission from Kurdish leaders before entering their region.
Underlying the differences, although not a direct issue in the talks, is the distaste among many Kurds, who are Sunni Muslims, for the conservative brand of Islam espoused by Ibrahim Jafari, the apparent prime minister. The Kurds don't want a centralized, overbearing religious state under Jafari's leadership.
In other developments:
Two U.S. security contractors were killed and a third was wounded yesterday in a roadside bombing on the main road between Baghdad and Hillah to the south. The three worked for Blackwater Security, a North Carolina-based firm that provides security for U.S. State Department officials and facilities in Iraq.
A woman and two children were killed yesterday in Mosul when a U.S. helicopter gunship fired at insurgents, according to Mosul's Al-Jumhuri Teaching Hospital. The U.S. military said it had killed five insurgents when the helicopter attacked four cars from which gunfire at been directed at the helicopter.
A study of news coverage of the war in Iraq fails to support a conclusion that events were portrayed either negatively or positively most of the time. The Columbia University-affiliated Project for Excellence in Journalism looked at nearly 2,200 stories on television, newspapers and Web sites and characterized 25 percent of the stories as negative and 20 percent as positive.
On cable television, Fox News Channel was twice as likely to be positive than negative, unlike the more evenhanded CNN and MSNBC, the study said.
A little known Sunni Muslim group, Jamaat Jund al-Sahaba (Soldiers of the Prophet's Companions), claimed responsibility yesterday for a suicide bombing that killed 50 people at a Shiite mosque in Mosul on Thursday.
Sam and Sara Lucchese create handmade pasta out of their kitchen-garage adjacent to their Ballard home. Here, they illustrate the final steps in making pappardelle pasta.