As Iraqi parliamentarians reconvened for their first session of 2012 today, the full spectrum of ongoing political crises were on display.
Symptomatically, the basic facts of who attended and who did not at times took precedence over the substantial content of the session. In the first place, the secular and increasingly Sunni-backed Iraqiyya party remained absent. A comfortable quorum was nonetheless reached with around 180 deputies present from the Shiite Islamists, the secular White Iraqiyya breakaway faction from Iraqiyya, and the Kurds.
That did not last long, however. Protesting against statements by Hussein al-Asadi, an ally of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, the Kurds withdrew from the session, demanding an apology from Asadi. Asadi had accused the Iraqi president, Jalal Talabani, a Kurd, of illegally providing shelter for the newly indicted Tareq al-Hashemi, the Sunni vice-president, thereby supposedly violating the anti-terrorism law.