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Fadhila Joins New Coalition; Kurds to Baghdad

The Iraqi newspaper Al-Rafidayn reported on Sunday that the Shia political party Fadhila would be joining a new parliamentary coalition with the Sunni party the Iraqi List and other unnamed Sunnis ("Al-Khaz Ali: Fadhila is Joining a New Coalition Still in Formation"). The Fadhila Party is a Shia faction that ran in the December 2005 elections with the United Iraqi Alliance along with SCIRI, Dawa, the Sadriya and Shia independents. It abandoned the new government after being deprived of the Petroleum Ministry (Fadhila's control of the oil ministry under the previous, interim government had been primarily noted for widespread allegations of corruption).

Fadhila is distinguished by the fact that alone among the Shia religious parties it does not follow the authority of the Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, but instead is guided by the Ayatollah Muhammad al-Ya'qubi. Under his direction, for example, it opposed the ratification of the constitution supported by all other Shia parties. It has a significant presence in Basra but has left no national imprint (aside from the aforementioned reputation for corruption). The fact that it is partnering with a Sunni party by itself could be a positive sign, and so observers will need to watch this new coalition.

Al-Rafidayn also reported separately ("Kurdish Forces to Participate in Baghdad Security Plan") that Kurdish forces would be participating in the new Baghdad security plan. It reported that 1,800 members of the Kurdish militia Beshmarka had left from their base in Irbil in north Iraq heading toward Baghdad on Sunday. The article notes that while some independent Kurdish lawmakers expressed reservations about having Kurdish troops involved in Baghdad fighting, the plan was supported by Iraq's two leading Kurdish public officials, President Jalal Talibani and Kurdish autonomous region President Masoud Barzani.