Days Ahead of Iraqi Elections, Erdogan Meets with Sunni Rivals

An Iraqi woman walks past election posters in Baghdad (Reuters)
An Iraqi woman walks past election posters in Baghdad (Reuters)
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Days Ahead of Iraqi Elections, Erdogan Meets with Sunni Rivals

An Iraqi woman walks past election posters in Baghdad (Reuters)
An Iraqi woman walks past election posters in Baghdad (Reuters)

Unlike Iran and the US, Turkey is publicly intervening in political alliances formed ahead of elections in Iraq for the first time.

In the past four rounds of elections in Iraq (2005-2018), Iranian and US envoys and ambassadors had put the final touches on Shiite consensus selecting the candidate for the post of prime minister.

While accusations were leveled against several neighboring countries, especially Turkey, regarding the post of parliament speaker in Iraq, which is reserved for Sunnis in the country, Iraqi Sunnis have been largely in agreement and without any conflict until the 2018 elections.

The same applies to the post of President of Iraq, which must be filled by a Kurdish candidate according to political consensus in the country. Kurds, who are represented by two major parties, shared positions in Iraqi Kurdistan and Baghdad smoothly until the 2014 elections.

Shiites occupy the post of prime minister in Iraq.

Nevertheless, the 2018 elections changed the situation for everyone in Iraq. They, for the first time, produced two coalitions that included all Iraqi sects, ethnicities, and components.

However, these alliances failed in their first experience when agreeing to form the government, and a final agreement was reached between the Sairoon bloc supported by Muqtada al-Sadr and the Fatah bloc led by Hadi al-Amiri.

The justification given for this agreement was to avoid Shiites fighting among themselves.

Sunnis and Kurds also struggled with the positions of parliament speaker and President.

Now, in a scene that seemed surprising, the Turkish presidency distributed two different flyers.

The first showed Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan with the Speaker of Parliament and Mohammad al-Halbousi, while the second showed Erdogan with the leader of the Azm Alliance, Khamis al-Khanjar.

Neither the Turkish presidency nor al-Halbousi or al-Khanjar issued a statement or statement regarding both pictures.



White House: Qatar and Egypt Plan Talks with Hamas on Gaza Ceasefire

National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan speaks during a press briefing at the White House in Washington, US, May 22, 2024. REUTERS/Leah Millis/File Photo Purchase Licensing Rights
National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan speaks during a press briefing at the White House in Washington, US, May 22, 2024. REUTERS/Leah Millis/File Photo Purchase Licensing Rights
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White House: Qatar and Egypt Plan Talks with Hamas on Gaza Ceasefire

National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan speaks during a press briefing at the White House in Washington, US, May 22, 2024. REUTERS/Leah Millis/File Photo Purchase Licensing Rights
National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan speaks during a press briefing at the White House in Washington, US, May 22, 2024. REUTERS/Leah Millis/File Photo Purchase Licensing Rights

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said on Saturday that mediators for Qatar and Egypt plan to engage Hamas militants soon to see if there is a way to push ahead with a Gaza ceasefire proposal offered by US President Joe Biden.

Sullivan spoke to reporters on the sidelines of a Ukraine peace summit and was asked about diplomatic efforts to get an agreement for Hamas to release some hostages held since Oct. 7 in exchange for a ceasefire lasting at least six weeks.

Sullivan said he had spoken briefly to one of the main interlocutors, Qatar's Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, and that they would speak again about Gaza on Sunday while both are in Switzerland for the Ukraine conference, Reuters reported.

Hamas has welcomed the ceasefire proposal, but insists any agreement must secure an end to the war, a demand Israel still rejects. Israel described Hamas's response to the new US peace proposal as total rejection.

Sullivan said that US officials have taken a close look at Hamas's response.

"We think some of the edits are not unexpected and can be managed. Some of them are inconsistent both with what President Biden laid out and what the UN Security Council endorsed. And we are having to deal with that reality," he said.

He said US officials believe there remains an avenue to an agreement and that the next step will be for Qatari and Egyptian mediators to talk to Hamas and "go through what can be worked with and what really can’t be worked with."

"We anticipate a back-and-forth between the mediators and Hamas. We’ll see where we stand at that point. We will keep consulting with the Israelis and then hopefully at some point next week we’ll be able to report to you where we think things stand and what we see as being the next step to try to bring this to closure," he said.