Broad Welcome for Sunni Return to Iraqi Politics

“I hope all politicians will welcome this national list properly, in the way it deserves,” Kurdish lawmaker Sardar Abdullah told IWPR. “I would like its return to the assembly to be a step towards overcoming our nation’s crises.”

But members of Maliki’s State of Law list said that while they were happy Iraqiya had ended its boycott, the whole affair had harmed the Sunni bloc’s credibility.

Saad al-Mutalabi, from the prime minister’s party, told IWPR, “Their return is definitely warmly welcomed, but how can we trust them? We cannot count on them – they might walk out any time.”

Mutalabi, who serves as an advisor to the prime minister, also insisted that Iraqiya had been given no guarantees.

“We have not promised them anything in return for coming back,” he said. “It was their decision to boycott, and it’s also their decision to return.”

The current government was only formed after an eight-month political deadlock with the passing of a US-backed deal based on a Shia-Sunni-Kurdish partnership.

The day before Iraqiya announced its return, American vice-president Joseph Biden told its leaders of “the importance of resolving outstanding issues through the political process”.

Experts warn that another Sunni mass exit might cause the whole agreement to collapse.

“People will lose faith in democracy if they see their elected representatives walk out,” Ibraheim al-Sumaidaei, a Baghdad-based political analyst, said. “Iraqiya has the option of preserving its position as a list representative of a wide segment of Iraqi people, and to work from the inside of this process on changing things it dislikes.

“Boycotters are always the losers, but they will not be the only ones – unfortunately, the public will share that loss.”

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