Arab League welcomes formation as new Iraqi cabinet faces serious security and economic challenges

Published September 2nd, 2003 - 02:00 GMT

Amid serious security deterioration in Iraq after the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime, a new Iraqi cabinet comprising of 25 members was announced Monday. Officials in Baghdad told Al Bawaba the cabinet’s tasks will not be easy, particularly in view of that the security and economic situation in the country is deteriorating.  

 

The cabinet portfolios have been distributed on sectarian and ethnic basis, as is the case in the governing council. The new cabinet includes 13 Arab Shiites, 5 Sunni Arabs, 5 Kurds, one Turkmen and one Christian.  

 

The new foreign minister will be Hoshiar al Zibari who was spokesman for the Kurdish Democratic Party. The key oil ministry will be headed by Ibrahim Mohammad Bahr al Uloum, the son of the Governing Council member Mohammad Bahr al Uloum, who on Saturday suspended his membership on the interim council following the bombing of the Imam Ali mosque in Najaf, due to lack of security and what he saw as American inability to protect prominent figures. The information ministry was abolished in the new government.  

 

The announcement of the new cabinet has come amid a serious deterioration in security, which was confirmed following the explosion of a booby-trapped car at last Friday’s prayers killing at least 83 and wounding more than 200 others. The leading Shiite cleric and spiritual leader of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) - Ayatollah Mohammad Baqer al Hakim - was among the dead.  

 

In an exclusive statement to Al Bawaba, the Iraqi Wifaq Party leader - Ibrahim al Janabi - referred to the immense responsibilities the new cabinet is expected to realize, saying, “The new government will be tasked to rebuild the whole country. It is expected to carry out difficult duties including security, economic, educational and health. The priority will be to restore security and stability, which is closely tied to the proper functioning of utility services including electricity, potable war and oil products to accommodate domestic needs.”  

 

The Wifaq Party leader pointed out that the issue is very complex and interrelated from both the security and economic standpoints, adding “I hope the government will manage to resolve the outstanding issues and problems we are facing.”  

 

Explaining how the new cabinet is expected to commence its work, Janabi said “each minister will submit a list of his ministry’s needs and authorities required…the Wifaq party, which has the Interior Ministry as its portfolio, will be needing many things that are necessary for the implementation of a comprehensive security plan and the restoration of stability in the country.”  

 

“A security plan has been designed using current intelligence and previous experience to best serve the country’s security and stability,” said Janabi.  

 

For his part, Kurdish Patriotic Party leader Mohammad Tawfiq believes, “The economic revival and the improvement of the living standards of the Iraqi people will be at the top of the new cabinet’s agenda. This is very crucial as the Iraqis have been facing difficult financial circumstances since the end of the war. Moreover, the new cabinet will also prepare for the presidential, parliamentary and domestic elections that are expected to take place next year.”  

 

When asked about the issue of security, the Kurdish official told Al Bawaba, “I think the Americans will hand security issues over to the Iraqis gradually…that should facilitate the work of the new government.”  

 

Tawfiq asserted that the new ministers have been chosen as a result of their political party affiliations…they (their parties) are all popular and known for the sacrifices they have made and the loyalty they have shown for their country, which I expect will aid us in our efforts in building trust amongst the Iraqi people.”  

 

On another note, current member of the Iraqi Governing Council - Muwaffaq al Rebaei – expects the council would not appoint a Prime Minster for Iraq’s first post-Saddam ministerial cabinet. 

 

Meanwhile, Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa said the formation of the new Iraqi cabinet is a step in the right direction. "We welcome any development that aims at entrusting the administration of Iraq to an Iraqi authority," Moussa told reporters.  

 

He added Arab states have given him positive response to the council's request to attend an Arab foreign ministers meeting to be held in Cairo on Sept. 9-10. (Albawaba.com) 

© 2003 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)


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