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Maliki Speaks Before Kurdish Regional Assembly

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki arrived at the Kurdish Regional Assembly and spoke about the future of the country (full Arabic text here; English text not currently available). Considering the tumultuous recent history of the Kurds under the Arab Hussein regime, the most dramatic aspect of the speech was that the Arab Prime Minister of Iraq was making such a speech to the Kurdish parliament. The content of the speech itself provided no controversy or drama. The prime minister repeatedly emphasized the “unity” of Iraq and the principles of democratic rule and the rule of law. In his words Iraq is “a state based upon constitutionalism, law and responsibility.”

Maliki went on to mention three priorities for the Iraqi government:

* the rebuilding of the country and the improvement of standards of living,
* his recently announced national reconciliation plan whereby Sunni insurgents and Shi’a militias are granted amnesty, and
* the building of the nation’s security services.

Al-Hayat reports on a call by the prominent Sunni cleric Mahmud al-Sumaydai to the Shia clerics, most prominently the Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani and the radical young cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, to the holy city of Mecca to discuss ways to reduce sectarian violence. While a grand gesture, it is highly unlikely that Iraqi religious authorities will be meeting in Mecca. Sistani rarely travels, and as ThreatsWatch noted on Monday, the difference between Sistani and Sadr is as great as that between Shia and Sunni; Sistani has unconditionally endorsed Maliki’s national reconciliation plan, while Sadr has condition acceptance on, among other demands, the demand that he be able to keep his militia, which is behind much of the sectarian strife.

It is also questionable as to whether or not they would truly be invited; Sumaydai is based in Baghdad, but the Wahhabi religious authorites who govern Mecca might frown upon a meeting of Shia religious leaders whom they consider to be heretics and not genuine Muslims.

Some security-related news: Sunni revenge struck Sadr City in Baghdad as two bombs were detonated in apparent response to the massacre of a number of Sunni residents on Sunday by Sadr’s Mahdi Army. The MNFI reports on the capture of a “high-level insurgent leader” in Baghdad on Friday. The Pentagon reports that Iraqi troops in Kirkuk are taking over their own logistical support.

If Iraqi forces are able to increasingly handle their own logistics, this will affect necessary U.S. troop levels, since up to the present U.S. troops have been performing supply and logistics work for the Iraqi military in addition to the U.S. military.