The Love Boat is not quite ready to sail.
“Maliki Urges Iraqis to Board the ‘Love Boat,'” from AFP, March 7 (thanks to James):
Baghdad (AFP) — Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki called on all Iraqis on Saturday to unite aboard what he called a “love boat” in a stirring appeal for reconciliation in the war-torn nation.
“The security in Iraq has settled down at a level that allowed the leaders of the tribes to come from everywhere,” Maliki told a conference of Sunni and Shiite tribal figures in the capital.
“National reconciliation has become a principle that we depend on … I invite everyone to stay in the boat of national reconciliation, the boat of fraternity, love, justice and equality that will lead us to the shore of safety,” he said.
The prime minister, a Shiite, has issued repeated calls for unity in the US-occupied country, but rarely using such colourful language….
Maliki faces serious challenges over the oil-rich province of Kirkuk, a fractious mix of Turkmen, Kurds and Arabs. The Kurds want it attached to their autonomous regions.
The potential ethnic timber box echoes an ongoing confrontation between the central government Iraqi Kurdistan’s president, Massud Barzani.
Maliki wants a strong central state and has called on the Kurds to respect the constitution while Barzani aims to preserve his region’s near-independence and does not hide his territorial ambitions….
Anyway, the Love Boat has already run aground:
“Bomber kills 25 at Iraq peace conference,” from CNN, March 10 (thanks to Erich):
BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) — At least 25 people were killed and 20 wounded in a suicide car bombing targeting a national reconciliation conference in Baghdad, an Interior Ministry official told CNN.
Tuesday’s attack on a municipal building of Abu Ghraib in western Baghdad came as tribal leaders were attending the conference, the official said.
The bombing came three days after Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki rallied sheikhs of the nation’s tribes to participate in Iraq’s government….