New Iraqi Government Approved
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
The Parliament confirmed Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's choices for the Iraqi national unity government. The 37-member Cabinet contains representatives from all major parties and all major ethnic and secular groups.
Following the vote, the ministers took their oath of office during a session broadcast throughout Iraq. The Parliament met at the Baghdad convention center.
The vote followed months of political discussions following the Dec. 15, 2005, national elections. Still, parties have not agreed on ministers of defense, minister interior and national security.
Al-Maliki, a Shiite Arab, will serve as acting interior minister, whose responsibilities include the police in Iraq. Al-Maliki also appointed Deputy Prime Minister Salam al-Zaubai, a Sunni Arab, as interim defense minister. Deputy Prime Minister Barham Saleh, a Kurd, will be acting state secretary for national security.
With the approval, the constitution the Iraqi people approved Oct. 15, 2005, takes full effect. "Today, the Iraqis have established complete control over their nation," said Army Maj. Gen. William Caldwell, the deputy chief of staff for strategic effects for Multinational Force Iraq.
"They are now in the lead and the U.S. government is just in support of that," he said. "They are the authoritative decision-making body in this country and anything we do from here on, we will have to do in consultation with the legitimate government authority."
U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad said he is pleased the Iraqis now have a democratically elected government. The embassy looks forward to working with the new ministers to build a free and secure Iraq, he said. He anticipates the new government will have an effect on the number of coalition troops in the country, but feels it is too early to say.
"The current size of our forces, the composition of our forces, the current missions of our forces are not ends in themselves for us," Khalilzad said during a news conference at the Ocean Cliffs press center. "Iraqi self-reliance and increasing security for Iraqis is."
Khalilzad said that with the political changes, especially the Iraqi emphasis on unity and reconciliation, the security situation in the country will improve. He said effective ministers will help breed the atmosphere that will allow the United States and other coalition nations to draw down their troop numbers.
The ambassador hastened to add he believed that with the political changes taking place - with the emphasis on unity - the United States will only draw down troop numbers if conditions on the ground warrant it.
Al-Maliki told Parliament that he would make restoring stability and security top priorities. He stressed the importance of capable and loyal military and police forces.
He said he wants to set an "objective timetable" for withdrawal of coalition forces after Iraqi forces develop the capabilities to maintain order in the country. He said he will stress security in the greater Baghdad area and work to increase the amount of electricity available in the capital.
The Cabinet includes three women: Human Rights Minister Wejdan Mikhail, State Secretary for Women's Rights Faten Abdelrahmane Mahmoud, and Environment Minister Narmine Othman.
Al-Maliki chose Hussein Shahristani as oil minister. Former Interior Minister Bayan Jabr Solagh will serve as finance minister. Hoshyar Zebari will serve as foreign minister, and Abdelfalah al-Sudani will serve as commerce minister. The justice minister is Hashem al-Shibli.
Other ministers are Industry Minister Fawzi Hariri; Hydraulic Resources Minister Latif Rashid; Construction and Housing Minister Bayan Dzeyyi; Communication Minister Mohammed Tawfik Allawi; Science and Technology Minister Raed Fahmi Jahed; Higher Education Minister Abed Diab al-Ujali; Planning Minister Ali Baban; and Culture Minister Assaad Kamal al-Hashemi.
Also approved were:
- Health Minister Ali al-Shemri
- Youth and Sports Minister Jassem Jaafer
- Transport Minister Karim Mehdi Saleh
- Education Minister Khodeir al-Khuzai
- Work and Social Affairs Minister Mahmud Jawad al-Radi Electricity Minister Karim Wahid
- Municipalities and Public Works Minister Ryad Ghraib
- State Secretary for Provincial Affairs Saad Taher al-Hashemi
- State Secretary for Parliamentary Affairs Safa al-Safi
- State Secretary for National Dialogue Akram al-Hakim Agriculture Minister Yorob Nazem al-Abbudi
- State Secretary for Foreign Affairs Rafeh al-Issawi
- State Secretary for Civil Affairs Adel al-Assadi
- State Secretary for Tourism and Archaeology Minister Liwa Smeyssem
- Immigrants Minister Abdelsamad Rahman Sultan
- State Secretary Mohammed Abbas al-Oraibi
- State Secretary Hassan al-Sari
- State Secretary Ali Mohammed Ahmed.
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