Baghdad postpones Sunni reconciliation conference

Government wants to hold victory celebrations for Mosul instead.

People celebrate Iraqi prime minister Haider Al Hadi's declaration of victory in Mosul on July 11, 2017. Further victory celebrations planned for Saturday have forced a Sunni conference on Iraqi post-war unityto be postponed. Reuters
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A conference in Baghdad aimed at stabilising Sunni areas of Iraq liberated from ISIL has been postponed because the government wants to celebrate the victory in Mosul.

Named the "Sunni" Conference, the meeting aimed to bring together Iraq's leading Sunni figures as well as some prominent political figures from the Shiite community.

Abdel Al Malik Husseini, spokesman for the speaker of the Iraqi parliament, confirmed that the conference was originally scheduled to take place on Saturday 15th July.

"However victory celebrations for Mosul are scheduled to take place in Baghdad on Saturday, so we had no other choice but to postpone the conference" he said. “We cannot give a clear date on when the conference will be rescheduled. It’s extremely difficult to say as there are many factors to consider from  re-inviting everyone to ensuring that all sides are availbable on the specified time and day.”

Over 1,000 individuals were invited from a number of ministries to leading political and tribal figures.The conference is one of a series of many, aimed at paving the way for an inclusive alliance to unite Sunni political heads in the post- ISIL period while also strengthening national unity and reconciliation.

The main purpose of the conference was to “discuss future visions for liberated areas within the country” said Saleeem Al Jubouri, the speaker of the Iraqi parliament..

Political heads who had confirmed their attendance this time  included the leader of the Islamic Supreme council Ammar al Hakim and theShiite cleric Moqtada Al Sadr, who heads the Sadrist Movement..

Dr Renad Mansour, academy fellow at the  London based think-tank Chatham House stressed that the conference's main "priority should be to establish an agreement to oversee the post war phase".
Meanwhile, Charles Tripp, professor of politics at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, advised that Iraq's Sunni block would have to " formulate a common position to put pressure on the Iraqi government to address the question of the thousands of Sunni Arabs who have been interned but not charged, to ensure that the Hashd Al Shaabi militias in particular are kept under control and don't indulge in acts of revenge in northern Iraq."

The Hashd Al Shaabi  are a predominantly Shia group of militias, sponsored and funded by the Iraqi state.

“Given the demands the Sunni politicians of Iraq have made over the past year, the will be trying to formulate a common position to put pressure on the Iraqi government, to  have concrete plans in place for the reconstruction of Mosul and other devastated northern towns, to ensure the safety and eventual return of the hundreds of thousands of displaced people and to pursue a much more inclusive policy towards the north and west of Iraq than that pursued by the previous government of Nouri Al Maliki, ” Professor Tripp added.