Iraqi reconciliation conference postponed 'until further notice'

Iraqi reconciliation conference postponed 'until further notice'
A UN-backed reconciliation conference aimed at uniting a divided Iraq after the defeat of IS in Mosul has been postponed 'until further notice', a source has said.
2 min read
13 July, 2017
The conference was postponed based on Abadi's request [Anadolu]

A UN-backed reconciliation conference meant to shape Iraq following the defeat of the Islamic State group has been postponed "until further notice", a source has said.

The conference, initially scheduled for 15 July, was postponed due to internal disputes within the Sunni National Iraqi Alliance.

Threats by Iraq's pro-Tehran militias and radical parties to target the conference and even arrest participants coming from Jordan and Turkey upon arrival at Baghdad airport, also brought questions of safety and security for participants.

Khaled al-Mafraji, spokesperson for the United Iraqi Alliance - which is part of the larger National Alliance - said the conference was postponed based on a request by Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.

"The conference coincided with a military show scheduled for the same day to celebrate the end of military operations in Mosul," he explained.

Mafraji also denied that Abadi was under political pressure to cancel the conference.

However, sources told The New Arab that members of the National Alliance might replace the conference with closed meetings and press conferences.

The reconciliation conference was initially announced by parliament speaker Salim al-Jabouri in an interview published by The New Arab's Arabic service last month.

It was meant to look at establishing national dialogue and lasting peace between Iraq's Sunni and Shia populations.

If held, it will be the first meeting of its kind in Iraq and will bring together rival political factions and militias who have engaged in a long and bloody sectarian-driven war since the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq.

It will also look to map out the future of the country after the defeat of IS in Mosul and its last pockets of territory in western Iraq.

Iraq descended into a bloodshed and chaos following the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq, pitting Sunnis against Shias with scores of bombings, kidnappings and murders each week.

Many analysts have blamed the Iraqi government's oppressive measures against the Arab Sunni population for the rise of IS in 2014 and say lasting peace cannot be acheived without answering their grievances.