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Daily Column
Iraq TV: Al-Sammarraie, Maliki, and Re-Arrests
Sunday Night News
04/20/2009 06:00 AM ET
By Daniel W. Smith and Yousif al-Timimi

Of course, the big story was the election of Ayad al-Samarraie by parliament to be its new speaker. In the afternoon, there were a few discrepancies between channels over how many votes he received, but by the evening, the number of 155, above the absolute majority needed, was settled upon.

Here are some of al-Samarraie’s comments, seen on different channels.
"The delay of electing a speaker was both good and bad. It was bad because a lot of laws weren't legislated, and good because the political blocs have come to an agreement and became united when they elected a new speaker."

“Our (the IIP’s) relations with al-Maliki's bloc are gradually getting better.”

"We need security forces that will be able to protect Iraq for defensive purposes only, not offensive ones."

"The next Iraqi government and Parliament will together evaluate the situation concerning the American withdrawal from Iraq in 2010.”

"The PKK is a terrorist organization, and must not be allowed to stay in Iraq."
Al-Iraqiya and Al-Hurra Iraq reported that a federal court turned down ex-speaker Mahmoud al-Mashhadanis's request to remain as an MP (it is curious the decision was reached on the same day that al-Sammaraie was voted in).

President Talabani and Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi were both shown congratulating al-Samarraie (even on al-Iraqiya), as well as several other high officials. The only silence on the subject came from Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, not reportedly the new speaker’s closest friend. The rising tide of constitution reform is only strengthened by al-Samarraie’s new position, and though al-Maliki didn’t mention anything about parliament, he did publicly “renew” his calls to reform, while at the same time, warning of the possibility of returning sectarian violence, due to unnamed elements within and outside Iraq.

Al-Maliki also approved the budget of the upcoming provincial elections to be held in the three remaining KRG-administered regions, not included in January’s polling. The Presidential Board was widely reported to have issued “republican decrees” to appoint a governor for of Karbala. The same was said of three other provinces, though less consistently - Anbar, Diyala and Maysan.

The heists which killed or injured seven goldsmiths using silencer-equipped guns in Baghdad’s Tobchi neighborhood were prominently shown. Some channels reported that the victims were members of the Sabian minority, who are often goldsmiths.

After much pressure from security spokesman Gen. Qassim Atta, the popular London-based Arabic newspaper Al-Hayat apologized to Atta for printing a quote he claims he never uttered. Last week, Atta threatened to have the Baghdad bureau of the paper shut down, as well as the Al-Sharqiya television network, who picked up the story. Al-Sharqiya also reported that Atta threatened the lives of its staff, specifically (including threats of beheading) Atta was said to be “looking into withdrawing the lawsuit against Al-Hayat,” but Al-Sharqiya was not mentioned.

Al-Rafadain reported that Atta also announced the re-arresting of 40 prisoners who were released by US forces, the original topic of the above-mentioned disputed Al-Hayat quote. MP Shatha al-Abousi was shown saying “The random arrest and the re-arresting might bring back the displacement.” Also on Al-Rafadain, the Muradiya family in Baquba demanded to know what has happened to 49 male members of their family who were arrested by the Iraqi government, two years a half ago.

Sadrist MP Zainab Al-Kinani, was shown demanding that various ministers be called before parliament, for an accounting of their achievements in the past three years.

Several MPs contributed to the discussion of the possible lifting of Ayad Allawi’s parliamentary immunity, if he contacts members of the outlawed Baathist Party. Last week, he expressed a willingness to do so, in the interest of reconciliation.


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