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From: http://www.philly.com/mld/philly/news/world/4459229.htm Posted on Wed, Nov. 06, 2002 Iraqi opposition divided over Brussels meeting By JONATHAN WRIGHT Reuters WASHINGTON - A bitter rift has divided the Iraqi opposition in exile as it prepares for a conference in Brussels this month on how to rule Iraq after President Saddam Hussein, opposition sources said on Wednesday. A dispute over the allocation of seats pits the mainstream Iraqi National Congress (INC) and the small monarchist movement against three big groups with an ethnic or sectarian power base - the two Kurdish groups and the mainly Shi'ite Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), they said. Kanan Makiya, a well-known author and activist close to the INC, wrote to the State Department on Wednesday urging the United States to intervene in favor of more representation for what he called Iraqi democrats and independents. An INC official said the committee preparing the conference, which is scheduled for Nov. 22, allocated 40 per cent of the 180 seats to the Shi'ite Muslim group and 25 percent to the two Kurdish groups. Turkoman groups would have six percent and Assyrians three percent, leaving 26 percent for Sunni Muslim groups and Iraqis who have opted out of ethnic or sectarian politics. "The meeting is relying on an outmoded 12-year out-of-date set of fixed percentages for the same old tired political parties of the past, which between them have not a single new idea to bring to the people of Iraq," Makiya wrote in an E-mail to David Pearce, the director of the State Department's office of Northern Gulf affairs. "This is a power grab, not a conference. It is about distributing positions and allocating portfolios, not discussing and agreeing upon a roadmap for the future of Iraq," added Makiya, author of the "Republic of Fear," the classic study of brutal rule by Saddam's Baath Party. An INC official said Makiya was largely reflecting the views of the INC, an umbrella group that has received U.S. funding but whose fortunes wax and wane according to the vagaries of policy shifts within the Bush administration. "It's a determined effort by the group of four so that they can control power," said the official, who asked not to be named. The group of four is SCIRI, the Kurdish Democratic Party, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan and the Iraqi National Accord - the main groups other than the INC and monarchists. LONG MEMO OF GRIEVANCES "We have submitted a long memo listing our grievances to the (preparatory) committee and we hope they will study it very carefully," said Nabeel Musawi, a senior political adviser to de facto INC leader Ahmed Chalabi. "We hope they will expand the conference and make it as inclusive as possible, but I made it clear we reserved the right not to attend the meeting," he told Reuters from London. An official of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, who asked not to be named, played down the gravity of the dispute. "This thing is being blown out of proportion by certain people. There is a consensus on this (the allocation of seats) and the INC were part of the discussions," said the official. "But unfortunately democracy is democracy and, if they are not happy with the outcome, it's up to them to withdraw or participate, as they wish," he added. Spokesmen for the other groups were not immediately available. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said: "Our understanding is that there are still differences among the Iraqi opposition as to the proposed conference. We expect them to work out these problems in an open and democratic manner." "We'll be keeping in touch with them as far as our thoughts and how they can work this out so that we have a conference that has the widest possible representation," he added. The memo to the State Department said only the United States had the clout to correct the alleged imbalance. "I urge you in the name of all those Iraqi democrats and independents, many of whom are American citizens, not to allow this travesty of justice and fairness to take place. "You have the power. You have the influence. One firm unequivocal phone call is all it takes. You owe that much to the principles upon which these great United States were founded," Makiya added. Boucher said: "To the extent that we can be helpful and present ideas or make suggestions that can help them work together, we want to do that. But fundamentally, these issues need to be resolved among Iraqis." The United States does not plan to finance the conference, officials said. _________________________________________________________ Better safe than sorry, right? 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