Possible Iraqi coalition

Political horse-trading following the results of the December 15th poll. This report says that US diplomats involved in the process are pressing for an inclusive, consensus government as a way to undermine the Sunni insurgency and allow US troops to begin pulling out of Iraq. (David Spector)

ICFTU statement on murdered Iraqi trade unionist

IRAQ: Murder of Executive Board member of General Federation of Iraqi Workers (GFIW)
Ibrahim Jaafari
Prime Minister
Office of the Prime Minister
By fax: c/o Iraqi Embassy in Brussels:
TUR/FW 25 January 2006
Dear Prime Minister,
Murder of Executive Board member of General Federation of Iraqi Workers (GFIW)
I am writing to protest at the murder of brother Alaa Issa Khalaf, Executive Board member of the GFIW, at 7:30 am today. Mr. Khalaf was shot by several unidentified men who were awaiting him outside his house in Bagdad when he left for work.
The International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU), which represents more than 155 million workers through its 236 affiliates in 154 countries and territories, considers this to be a targeted attack on a trade union activist. On a separate matter, the ICFTU is also concerned at reports of government interference in union affairs, namely the GFIW-affiliated engineers’ and lawyers’ unions.
Mr. Prime Minister, as a member of the International labour Organisation (ILO), Iraq has an obligation to respect the fundamental labour standards established by Convention 87 on freedom of association, regardless of ratification. It is unacceptable that trade unionists should exercise their activities in a climate of violence, and it is your government’s responsibility to ensure security for trade unionists.
I therefore strongly urge you to ensure a full and immediate investigation is launched into the murder of Alaa Issa Khalaf, and that adequate steps are taken to provide security for trade unionists, so they can do their legitimate trade union work without having to fear for their security or their lives. Finally, I urge you to ratify ILO Convention 87 on the right to freedom of association.
Yours sincerely,
General Secretary

Arab troops in?

Arab League chief Amr Moussa says Arab countries are willing to discuss sending troops to help stabilise Iraq once U.S.-led forces eventually leave, but only if asked by an Iraqi national unity government. (David Spector)

Disarming the militias

Stanley A Weiss argues in the Asia Times that the semi-private militias which deprive Baghdad of a basic tenet of any sovereign state – a monopoly on the use of coercive force – need to disarm themselves, and offers some historical precedents. (David Spector)

Iraqi resources

A group of Labour MPs has tabled a Commons motion which is as follows: That this House notes the re-broadcast of Between Iraq and a Hard Place on More4 which gave evidence of the theft of Iraq resources since the 2003 invasion as one of the largest in the history of the world; further notes the key findings of the report Crude Designs: The Rip-Off of Iraq’s Oil Wealth which states that at an oil price of $40 per barrel, Iraq stands to lose between $74 billion and $194 billion over the lifetime of the proposed contracts, from only the first 12 oilfields to be developed; further notes that these estimates, based on conservative assumptions, represent between two and seven times the current Iraqi government budget; and further notes that under the likely terms of the contracts, oil company rates of return from investing in Iraq would range from 42 per cent. to 162 per cent., far in excess of usual industry minimum target of around 12 per cent. return on investment.
Derek Wyatt MP has proposed an amendment which calls on the Government to advise their Iraqi counterparts on the efficacy of a windfall tax.