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Entries in Ibrahim al-Jaafari (3)


Iraq Update: Does the Sadr Referendum Change Outlook for Prime Minister?

The Majlis blog rounds up the latest news. The main effect of the referendum of the Sadrists, who have the most representatives in the third-placed Iraqi National Alliance, is to delay rather than advance the selection of a Prime Minister. Neither of the top candidates, Nuri Al-Maliki (State of Law) or Iyad Allawi (Iraqiya) won significant support. Personally, I can't see the "Jaafari compromise", floated here, as an alternative at this point, and does this development really make Moqtada al-Sadr a kingmaker?

US Military & Iraq’s Civilians: The “Collateral Murder” Video (Full & Short Versions)

Ibrahim al-Jaafari won the Sadrist movement's referendum on the next prime minister, with 24 percent of the roughly 1.5 million ballots cast.

Jaafar al-Sadr, the son of Dawa party founder Mohammad Baqir al-Sadr, placed second with 23 percent of the vote; Qusay as-Suhail, a Sadrist MP (and rumored candidate for the PM job), placed third with 17 percent.

Nouri al-Maliki was fourth, with 10 percent, and Iyad Allawi placed fifth with 9 percent (full results in English are here).

The referendum has no binding legal authority; the Sadrist leadership says it's merely a way to gauge public opinion. Jaafari is trying to position himself as something of a compromise candidate, a third party who wasn't involved in the pre-election fighting between Allawi and Maliki; the referendum gives him a boost.

The results of the referendum are clearly a roadblock to an alliance between Maliki's State of Law movement and the Sadrists (and, by extension, the Iraqi National Alliance). Maliki and Jaafari have an unpleasant history, and tensions remain despite recent efforts to bury the hatchet. Maliki won't be happy if the Sadrists condition their support on Jaafari's installation as prime minister.

Reidar Visser notes that Jaafari might also be unacceptable to the Kurdish parties:
Back in 2006 he was the PM nominee that was "unacceptable" to the Kurds, which led to his replacement by Maliki (who in turn ended up being seen as equally "unacceptable" by many Kurds).

Jaafari held a meeting yesterday with representatives from the Iraqiyya coalition; he issued a statement afterwards endorsing a government "formed without excluding any political component."

The Latest from Iran (6 April): Challenge Resumes

1945 GMT: Parliament-President Compromise? Mehr News reports that the Majlis and Government have formed a joint committee to resolve the disagreement over revenues from subsidy cuts. The move was announced by Gholam-Reza Mesbahi-Moghaddam, head of the special Parliamentary committee studying the economic reform plan.

Still, the move may not be a smooth one. Mesbahi-Moghaddam told Khabar Online, "After many years of studying and teaching economics in universities, why can't I be taken as an economist, but President Ahmadinejad who hasn't studied economy falsely regards himself as an economist?"

NEW Iran Snap Analysis: Playtime’s Over
NEW Iran Document: Mousavi Meeting with Reformists (5 April)
NEW Iran Document: Rafsanjani Meets the Reformists (5 April)
Iran Document: Jafar Panahi’s Wife on His Detention & Health
The Latest from Iran (5 April): Repression

1940 GMT: Karroubi Advisor Tortured? Saham News, the website of reformist cleric Mehdi Karroubi’s Etemade Melli party, claims that Mohammad Davari, the detained chief editor, has been subjected to torture intended to force him to cast public doubt on Karroubi’s claims about the rape of post-election prisoners.

Saham News says Davari is in very poor physical and psychological condition. The website reports that he’s been allowed to meet with his mother briefly in jail only three times since his arrest.

1930 GMT:Academic Purity (cont.). Adding to our report that Professor Morteza Mardiha has been expelled from Allameh Tabatabei University, Pedestrian adds two others who have been suspended from their teaching positions: Mir Hossein Mousavi's chief advisor, Alireza Beheshti, and another Mousavi advisor, Ghorban Behzadian-Nejad.

1635 GMT: Oh, This Is Certain to Be Helpful. As the Obama Administration unveils its Nuclear Posture Review --- “If a non-nuclear weapon state is in compliance with the nonproliferation treaty and its obligations, the U.S. pledges not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against it" --- Secretary of Defense Robert Gates decides he needs to add a bit of Clint Eastwood-as-Dirty Harry to the public spin:
If you’re going to play by the rules ... then we will undertake certain obligations to you. But if you're not going to play by the rules, if you're going to be proliferator, then all options are on the table in terms of how we deal with you.

1625 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Abdollah Ramezanzadeh, spokesman for the Khatami Government and leading member of the Islamic Iran Participation Front, has been given a five-year prison sentence.

Another member of the IIPF, Shahab Tabatabaei, has also been sentenced to five years in prison following appeal.

1620 GMT: Academic Purity. Morteza Mardiha, professor of political philosophy at Allameh Tabatabei University, has been expelled from the campus.

1540 GMT: Protest in The Netherlands. A group of Iranian protesters occupied Iran's embassy in The Hague today. There were a number of arrests as the demonstrators were removed.

1530 GMT: The Oil Front --- All is Well! Hamid Hoseini, the head of Petroleum Products Exports Syndicate, has confirmed that oil exports to India, China and Japan have been sharply reduced. In the case of Beijing, the fall is more than 50%. Hoseini warned that sanctions could be "effective" and Tehran cannot be choosy about its customers.

However, Iranian Oil Minister Masoud Mir-Kazemi preferred to talk about imports rather than exports, saying Iran has the potential to achieve self-sufficiency in gasoline production amid the threat of sanctions and disinvestment.

1440 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Journalist and student activist Omid Montazeri, arrested in December when he enquired about the detention of his mother, has been given a temporary release. He has been sentenced to six years in prison.

The detention of Kaveh Kermanshahi, human rights activist and member of the One Million Signatures Campaign, has been extended for another month. Kermanshahi was taken into custody at the start of February.

1430 GMT: Karroubi's Message. There is now a Persian summary of Mehdi Karroubi's meeting with the reformist coalition in Parliament (see separate entries for the Mousavi and Rafsanjani meetings) and a short English extract:
Mehdi Karroubi, strongly condemning the growth of lies, rumours, and deception in the name of Islam and religion by a small group, added, “Today I am not only mourning for Imam Khomeini [as the founder of the revolution] and what has happened to the revolution but more than anything I am mourning for Islam and Imam Ali (shia’s first Imam who is the symbol of justice).”

1310 GMT: Corruption and the Ahmadinejad Government. Elyas Naderan, a "conservative" MP and member of the Majlis' Economic Commission, has alleged that First Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi is the head of a "corruption network".

0955 GMT: Iranian Spying Down Under? The Australian publishes an article claiming that the Iranian Embassy in Canberra is "spying on Iranian democracy activists in Australia, collecting intelligence on their activities, and reporting back to Tehran".

0945  GMT: The Post-Election Dead. Emrooz has posted a list of alleged names and burial places of 50 post-election protesters in Behesht-e-Zahra cemetery.

0830 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Human rights activist Mohammad Rhana Ghaznavids has been arrested.

0710 GMT: The Saberi protests. EA readers update us on the ongoing protests in front on the Japanese Embassy in Washington over the threatened deportation of activist Jamal Saberi.

Mission Free Iran reports on Sunday's demonstration, "Iranian Sweets and a Saberi Solidarity Cherry Tree", and announces another protest for next Sunday.

0700 GMT: We've now updated on the resumed political manoeuvres, posting a full translation of the meeting between Mir Hossein Mousavi and the reformist Parliamentary coalition.

0620 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. The families of three of Mir-Hossein Mousavi’s advisors have visited Qom to appeal to senior clerics.

The families of Arab Maziar,  Alireza Beheshti Shirazi, and Ghorban Behzadian Nejad visited Grand Ayatollahs Vahid Khorasani, Mousavi Ardebili and Bayat Zanjani to express concerns about continuing detention and denial of legal rights.

All three men were detained on 28 December, one day after the Ashura demonstrations.

0610 GMT: Looks Like We Have a Theme. "There are a series of unresolved issues that the Parliament could take further" (0530 GMT) --- the Iranian Labor News Agency reports that 233 of the 290 members of the Majlis have written to Iran's head of judiciary, Sadegh Larijani, demanding a fight against "big" corruption.

0600 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Cleric Seyed Ahmadreza Ahmadpour, a senior member in Qom of the Islamic Iran Participation Front, has been given a one-year prison sentence by a clerical court.

The 1 1/2-year sentence of student activist Kaveh Rezaee has been upheld by an appeals court.

0530 GMT: We start this morning with the impression that, after the New Year holidays, the political battle has been resumed, big-time, in Iran.We put up a summary of Mousavi's statement to the reformist coalition at the end of our Monday updates, and we've now posted the exchange between the reformists and Rafsanjani.

We have a snap analysis, "Playtime's Over", of the developments.

Iraq: The Latest Political Moves

The Majlis political blog offers a round-up of the latest manoeuvres for power after Iraq's inconclusive election:

The horse-trading continues in Iraq: Prime minister Nouri al-Maliki is trying to cement a possible merger with the Iraqi National Alliance [predominantly "religious" Shi'a), but the Sadrist movement seems reluctant; and [former Prime Minister] Iyad Allawi is trying to attract Kurdish support, but the Kurds seem reluctant.

Iraq Video: Scott Lucas on Al Jazeera’s “Inside Story”

There's a lot to keep track of, so we've rounded up a bullet-point list of the latest political maneuverings. We'll do similar lists in the coming days as they're needed.

*Allawi met with Iraqi president Jalal Talabani. Allawi is trying to drum up Kurdish support -- Talabani is a Kurd -- but that will be a difficult slog: Many Kurds distrust Allawi's Iraqiyya coalition, not because of Allawi himself, but because of the staunch Arab nationalism of some coalition partners (particularly the al-Hadba party).

Kurds worry that they will undermine their own interests by joining Iraqiyya: "For us, dealing with al-Iraqiya List is impossible," Feryad Rawanduzi, a senior Kurdish official from President Talabani's party, told the Kurdish Peyamner news agency. "There are some groups within al-Iraqiya List whose agenda and way of thinking is different from us."

*Maliki met with [former Prime Minister] Ibrahim Jaafari, the head of the National Reform Trend, a member of the Iraqi National Alliance.

There's a lot of bad blood between the two men: Maliki succeeded Jaafari as the head of the Dawa party, and Jaafari didn't leave voluntarily. But they seem to be burying the hatchet (Maliki is trying to craft a merger with the INA, remember), which has the Sunni Arab world once again fretting about Iran's influence.

*Moqtada al-Sadr asked his supporters to vote on whether the Sadrist movement should back Allawi or Maliki (or a third party). Sources close to Sadr say he wants Allawi to play an important role(عربي) in the next government; a referendum could give Sadr some political cover to split from his colleagues in the INA and back Allawi.

*Allawi's aides met with Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Iraq's most influential Shi'ite cleric, and asked him to issue an interpretation of article 76 of the Iraqi constitution, which deals with the formation of a new government. Iraq's Federal Supreme Court (which may not even have jurisdiction over the issue) ruled last week that article 76 allows either Maliki or Allawi to form the next government.