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IraqSide:Media
Daily Column
Iraq Papers Thu: Unqualified Ambassadors
Talabani "Too Hasty" in Congratulating Ahmadinejad?
By AMER MOHSEN 06/18/2009 02:12 AM ET
Az-Zaman
Az-Zaman
Pan-Arab al-Sharq al-Awsat quotes security sources who claim that the “mastermind” behind the assassination of MP Harith al-'Ubaidi was captured during a raid in the Ghazaliya district. According to security officials, the culprit was a 45-year-old mosque guard who occupied a high rank in al-Qa'ida’s military wing. News channel al-Jazeera quoted the Associated Press, which was told – by a “high level security official” that the man in question was linked to an Iraqi MP – reviving theories of official involvement in 'Ubaidi’s death.

Meanwhile, President Talabani was among the first Presidents to congratulate Iranian incumbent Mahmud Ahmadinejad for his re-election, even before the official results of the Iranian polls were finalized (Iraqi news outlets mistakenly reported Talabani as the “only” world President to congratulate Ahmadinejad, which was not true – many heads of state, including Afghanistan and the member countries of the Shanghai Organization already extended their good wishes for the re-elected Iranian leader. )

Talabani’s statement was met by criticisms from Iraqi politicians. An independent MP, Wa’il 'Abd al-Lateef, told the Kurdistan news agency that Talabani should not have been “hasty” and that the elections “are not effectively over ... as Iraqis ... we should not hastily announce our loyalty for a specific candidate as long as matters have not been decided in Iran yet.”

In other news, Az-Zaman reports that the Iraqi government has finally conceded and decided to form an investigative committee to look into the claims of Iraqi prisoners who have been on an ongoing hunger strike to protest their conditions. An official statement said that Premier al-Maliki has formed a committee to examine the conditions of the Rasafa prison, where 300 detainees have participated in a hunger strike since Monday. Press reports claimed that a prisoner has died, which was denied by government sources, who affirmed that “all prisoners are in a good health condition.” Most of the detainees seem to belong to the Sadrist Current, whose leaders insist that the strike will continue, accusing administrators of abusing the prisoners and claiming that no representatives of the state or its human rights’ commissions have been sent to the prison as of yet.

On a different front, London-based al-Quds al-'Arabi quoted a Sunni Parliamentarian who claimed that recent diplomatic appointments were made based on sectarian and power-sharing criteria, producing many Ambassadors “with little or no qualifications.” The IAF MP, Salman al-Jameeli, said that these appointments will be presented to the Parliament for confirmation and that they include many names of officials and relatives of leaders who have no experience or qualifications for diplomatic representation. Those include, according to the MP, the Iraqi government spokesman 'Ali al-Dabbagh, the current Baghdad governor and the nephew of Mas'ud al-Barzani.

Lastly, the Iraqi national soccer team has been eliminated from a top international competition, the Continents’ Cup, after losing by one goal to European champions Spain. Despite being eliminated, observers considered Iraq to have managed a reasonnable result, having tied with Africa’s Champions, South Africa, on their home turf, and closely lost to Spain, one of the world’s best teams. Iraq’s Serbian coach expressed his satisfaction with his team’s performance, noting that “it was not easy to contain the Spanish team,” but that his squad executed an effective defensive plan.

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