Iraq and Gulf Analysis

Zurfi Takes Over as Governor in Najaf; Maliki Participates in UIA Revival Talks

Posted by Reidar Visser on Saturday, 23 May 2009 23:59

Playing second fiddle? Nuri al-Maliki seated to the right of Humam Hammudi at UIA revival talks

Nuri al-Maliki’s ally Adnan al-Zurfi has finally assumed the governorship of Najaf, after initial attempts by the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI) to mount a legal challenge to his candidacy (see entry for 8 May, below). Part of the story is an internal Shiite quarrel about the authenticity of a letter from the legal committee of the Iraqi parliament, ostensibly signed by the Sadrist Baha al-Araji and supporting the challenge by ISCI to Zirfi. Araji now claims the letter is false and that he could not have possibly signed it since he was in Istanbul with Muqtada al-Sadr on the 3 May, when the letter was issued.

Meanwhile, whereas Maliki’s comments to al-Hurra television on 14 May about “majority rule” have been rendered with an unduly sectarian tinge in Western media (he also condemned the concept of sectarian-based alliances), it does seem both significant and worrisome to those who prefer a non-sectarian political atmosphere that he did participate on 20 May in a meeting presided over by ISCI’s Humam Hammudi and aimed at reviving the Shiite-led United Iraqi Alliance (see also entry for 13 May below). The meeting comes in the middle of a hectic round of consultations between ISCI’s leader Abd al-Aziz al-Hakim and various leading ISCI and Badr figures, apparently all taking place in Tehran where Hakim is being treated for cancer (photos below).

Abd al-Aziz al-Hakim meeting with senior Iraqi Badr figures on 22 May. The balcony and the furniture look very similar to the photograph of Hakim meeting with Ibrahim al-Jaafari below, confirmed as having been taken in the Iranian capital Tehran on 20 May 2009

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