Iraqi Parliament Selects Top Security Ministers

By Omar Fekeiki
Washington Post Foreign Service
Thursday, June 8, 2006 5:57 PM

BAGHDAD, June 8 -- The Iraqi parliament agreed upon candidates to lead the country's three top security ministries Thursday, ending a weeks-long stalemate among the country's largest political factions.

The selection of an interior minister, a defense minister and a national security adviser gives Iraq a complete government for the first time since elections in December 2005 and it provides a key opportunity to promote political reconciliation between members of the country's Sunni Muslim minority and the Shiite-dominated government.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki presented the names to parliament a few minutes after announcing the killing of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, who has claimed responsibility for hundreds of bombings, beheadings and kidnappings since the U.S. invasion.

Maliki's selection of the cabinet was a delicate exercise in satisfying the demands of the parliament's Shiite Muslim, Kurdish, Sunni Arab and secular factions. Shiite leaders demanded control of the ministries, arguing that the nation's principal security threat is from Sunni insurgents. Sunni leaders, however, sought to control Interior and Defense, insisting that both ministries have become riddled with Shiite militiamen.

In the end, the Interior Ministry and the job of national security adviser were given to Shiites, and the Defense Ministry went to a Sunni.

The new interior minister, Jawad al-Bolani, was nominated by the Iraqi United Alliance, the largest Shiite bloc in the parliament. But unlike his predecessor, Bayan Jabr, he is not connected to Shiite militias. He had been an engineer in the Iraqi air force until 1999. He became involved in politics after the fall of Saddam Hussein's government and eventually joined Iraq's interim parliament.

After his appointment was announced, he pledged on television to perform his job with "hard effort and integrity."

The new minister of defense, Abdul-Qadir Muhammed Jasim, was approved over the protests of parliamentarians from western Anbar province. Jasim served as commander of the Iraqi forces in that region during the 2004 military operation against insurgents in Fallujah, 35 miles west of Baghdad.

Sheerwan al-Waeli, the new national security minister, also encountered some opposition. The leader of the main Sunni Arab group in the parliament, Adnan al-Dulaimi, complained that his group had not been consulted on the position.

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