It seems that a prospective national meeting of political parties in Erbil, the capital of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region, is imminent. But questions remain as to whether such a meeting can solve Iraq's increasingly complicated problems.
There are reports of US pressure and Iranian and Arab support for a second meeting among Iraqi factions under the auspices of Kurdistan Region President Massoud Barzani. Erbil hosted a similar meeting in 2010 with some success: it resulted in what is known as the "Erbil Agreement" that led to the formation of a national unity government, headed by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
According to Kurdish leaders in Iraq, Barzani is expected to send formal invitations within two weeks to leaders of Iraqi political parties for a comprehensive national conference in Erbil. The conference would discuss the repercussions of the anti-government protests taking place across Iraqi cities, which have increased sectarian tensions across the country.
The announcement of Barzani’s national-meeting initiative was preceded by the visit of a delegation from the National Iraqi Alliance — which includes the main Shiite parties — to the Kurdistan region, where they met with Kurdish leaders. Sources revealed that the Shiite delegation proposed an initiative that included comprehensive reforms.
The visit coincided with another meeting held by Barzani among Ayad Allawi, leader of the Iraqi List, which is supported by the Iraqi Sunnis; Ahmed Chalabi, president of the Iraqi National Congress; and a representative of the “Sadrist current” led by Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. The parties discussed the crisis and its repercussions.
The prospective "national meeting" would theoretically require concessions by opposing parties to solve the crisis. But it appears that each party is trying to improve its position in advance of sitting down at the negotiating table.