Saturday, December 09, 2006

Iraqis Seek to Stem Sectarian Violence

Iraqi groups are making tentative moves to stem sectarian violence by organizing a coalition called the National Salvation Front and calling for national and international meetings. Moqtada al-Sadr's Tayyera Sadriyyin party is crucial for the advancement of the goals of the alliance of Shiite, Sunni and secular groups.


Iraqis Seek to Stem Sectarian Violence
by David Enders
09 December 2006


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Saleh al-Mutlaq, the leader of the Iraqi Dialogue Front, a secular political party whose critics accuse him of links to the insurgency and former government, recently announced the creation of the National Salvation Front, a grouping of parties that spans sects and is calling for regional and international meetings to reach an agreement between Iraqis.

On December 6, as headlines in the United States were dominated by the Iraq Study Group's suggestions about how the Bush administration should proceed in Iraq, Maliki made his own headlines, by reversing his initial opposition to holding such meetings.

The new front includes the Tayyera Sadriyyin, the political party led by anti-occupation cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, whose militia, number of seats in parliament and cabinet posts rival those of Hakim's party.

Sadr's party allied with Hakim's and other Shiite parties in elections in late 2005, but has since broken with Hakim over power-sharing and Hakim's continued calls to partition Iraq. If the new front holds, it would be a serious challenge to the current government, as Sadr has already withdrawn his support for Maliki over the latter's meeting with Bush and refusal to allow the Iraqi parliament to discuss the issue of allowing U.S. troops to remain in the country, an issue Sadriyyin members of parliament have spearheaded.

In 2004, before widespread sectarian violence broke out, Sadr's militia coordinated to some extent with Sunni guerillas to battle U.S. troops before Sadr was convinced to participate in the political process and a government that is now seen as a joke.

A Sadr spokesman said that he was hopeful Sadr's supporters would move away from sectarian politics and ally with Sunnis.

"We need to have an alliance with secular and religious Sunnis," said Ghaith al-Tamimi, a member of the Sadriyyin media department in Baghdad. "The Sadriyyin should stand up because we are running out of time on this issue."

Mustafa al-Hiti, a member of Mutlaq's party who spends much of his time in Amman, said the only parties not participating were Maliki's Dawa, the country's two main Kurdish parties, and Hakim's SCIRI -- essentially, the Bush administration's only allies in Iraq.

Hiti said that discussions over the formation of the bloc had begun before Bush's meeting with Maliki, but that the group had decided to announce itself now to capitalize in part on U.S. support for the sort of regional talks Maliki had initially rejected.
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The entire article

1 Comments:

At 9:21 PM, Anonymous B. Raman said...

What will be the impact of the execution of Saddam Hussein on the global jihad being waged by Al Qaeda and the International Islamic Front (IIF) outside Iraq?

Marginal so far as Al Qaeda and the IIF are concerned. Osama bin Laden never liked Saddam Hussein, whom he used to look upon as an apostate because of his secular and socialistic policies. While Al Qaeda and the IIF would exploit the Sunni anger over the execution for PSYWAR purposes, it is doubtful whether they would mount any spectacular act of terrorism in foreign territory as a reprisal for Saddam's execution. Al Qaeda would not like the dead Saddam to emerge as an iconic martyr. It would not like the Ummah to view Saddam's execution as a sacrifice for the cause of Islam. He would be portrayed more as an anti-US Muslim militant than as a leader of the Ummah. While the chances of an Al Qaeda-mounted operation outside Iraq to avenge the execution of Saddam are thus minimal, there is a greater danger of individual Muslims in the overseas diaspora carrying out acts of terrorism to avenge his execution. Terrorist strikes similar to the London blasts of July,2005, are a greater probability and need to be guarded against.

What will be the impact on the situation in Iraq?

Reprisal attacks against the Shias and the American soldiers will increase, with more Shias killed than Americans. While American troops have been dying almost every day in small numbers, Al Qaeda and the resistance fighters have not so far succeeded in mounting acts of mass casualty terrorism against the Americans. Acts of mass casualty terrorism have till now been directed mainly against the Shias and the Kurds. This trend will continue. In the short term, Saddam's execution will increase the flow of Sunni volunteers to the terrorist organisations and the resistance fighters and will result in a further decrease in the already small number of Sunnis joining the security forces of the Iraq Government, thereby making it appear even more than in the past as a Shia force of suppression. There will be a negative impact on the even now limited capability of the security forces to restore normalcy. Their dependence on the US security forces for maintaining security will increase.

What will be the impact on the relations between the foreign terrorists of Al Qaeda and the Iraqi resistance fighters, both of whom are now operatinng jointly through the Mujahideen Shura Council under the over-all leadership of Abu Omar al-Baghdadi?

The Iraqi resistance groups have in their ranks a large number of ex-Baathists. They are strongly nationalists angered over the US occupation and destruction of a country, which they feel they had built up. They are not necessarily strongly pro-Saddam. Even among the Sunnis---including the Baathists---there are elements which feel that Saddam brought the country to its present plight through his unwise policy of confrontation. These ex-Baathists are not happy over the religious and pan-Islamic agenda of Al Qaeda and the Iraqi religious groups associated with it. The US could have exploited this to drive a wedge between the two. The chances of this succeeding have been lessened as a result of the unwise action in having Saddam executed in indecent haste. The Sunni Arabs of Iraq were not a monolith. Tribal affiinities often came in the way of sectarian solidarity. They are already united now as a result of the continued US occupation and this will be further strengthened as a result of the execution.

What will be the impact on the Sunnis of the shocking execution of Saddam on the day of the Eid al-Adha, or Feast of the Sacrifice, which marks biblical patriarch Abraham's willingness to kill his son for God?.

Muslim countries pardon criminals to mark the feast. They never carry out executions on that day. One does not know whose decision it was to execute him on that day----the Shia dominated Government's or the US'. As a result, what should have been projected as the due culmination of a judicial process has assumed a strongly religious connotation. The image of a defiant Saddam bravely facing death with the Holy Koran in his hand and with the names of Allah, the Arabs and the Palestinians in his mouth will inspire more Sunni youth to volunteer themselves for suicide missions. Instead of letting Saddam languish in jail for the rest of his life as one among many criminals, the Americans have put a halo round his head as a man who defied the Americans and sacrificed his life for the cause of Iraq, the Palestinians and other Arabs and Islam. Rightly or wrongly, many Muslims might convince themselves that no Muslim Government---Shia or Sunni-- would have done an act of such shocking insensitivity. They would tend to assume that the US must have done this to teach the Muslims a lesson.

Who will be the immediate beneficiary of the execution?

In the short-term, definitely Iran. Teheran's objective is to keep the US forces preoccupied and bleeding in Iraq for as long as possible. In its calculation, this would lessen the possibility of a US intervention in Iran to end its nuclear capability. The longer the bleeding in Iraq, the lesser the possibility of a US intervention in Iran. So Teherean calculates.

What are the options for the US in the present difficult situation?

The US has to encourage the other Baathist leaders---whether in jail or underground--- to forget the past and activitate themselves against the foreign terrorists. They have to be protected against the wrath of the terrorists as well as the Shia extremists. The time has come to think in terms of separate Sunni para-military forces, which would be responsible for internal security in the Sunni majority areas.

 

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