Monday, August 27, 2007

Iraq Coming Together?

Two interesting items from Iraq; must see if they truly develop.


Iraq's leaders agree on key benchmarks

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq's top Shi'ite, Sunni Arab and Kurdish political leaders announced on Sunday they had reached consensus on some key measures seen as vital to fostering national reconciliation.

The agreement by the five leaders was one of the most significant political developments in Iraq for months and was quickly welcomed by the United States, which hopes such moves will ease sectarian violence that has killed tens of thousands.
Iraqi officials said the five leaders had agreed on draft legislation that would ease curbs on former members of Saddam Hussein's Baath party joining the civil service and military.

Consensus was also reached on a law governing provincial powers as well as setting up a mechanism to release some detainees held without charge, a key demand of Sunni Arabs since the majority being held are Sunnis.

The laws need to be passed by Iraq's fractious parliament, which has yet to receive any of the drafts.

Yasin Majid, a media adviser to Maliki, told Reuters the leaders also endorsed a draft oil law, which has already been agreed by the cabinet but has not yet gone to parliament.

But a statement from Talabani's office said more discussions were needed on the draft oil law and constitutional reforms. Committees had also been formed to try to ensure a "balance" of Shi'ites, Sunni Arabs and Kurds in government.
And second, perhaps even more important, but also more speculative, is this report about al-Douri coming in from the cold, which would essentially end the Sunni insurgency and lead to the quick liquidation of Al Qaeda in Iraq!

al Douri was number 6 (the King of Clubs) in the "deck of cards" and had sworn allegiance to Zarqawi, and is the top figure from the deck that has not been captured or killed:
As Coalition and Iraq troops continue the hunt for al Qaeda throughout Iraq, a senior Baathist who years ago threw in his lot with al Qaeda has flipped. Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, the former vice president of Saddam's revolutionary council and number 6 on the "deck of cards" of the 55 most wanted, has "decided to sever ties with al-Qaeda and sign up to the programme of the national resistance, which includes routing Islamist terrorists and opening up dialogue with the Baghdad government and foreign forces," Abu Wisam al-Jashaami told Adnkronos International. "In return, for cooperating in the fight against al-Qaeda, al-Douri has asked for guarantees over his men's safety and for an end to Iraqi army attacks on his militias."

Al Douri swore bayat (an oath of allegiance) to Abu Musab al Zarqawi, al Qaeda in Iraq's former commander, sometime in early 2004 according to an Internet posting on a jihadist website intercepted by The SITE Institute.
But in fact he has such a stain of evil on his hands that some think cutting a deal will be simply impossible. However,
While it is unclear how much influence al Douri possesses with former Baathists turned al Qaeda, or how much of Saddam's money he controls, his turn against al Qaeda serves as an indicator of how actors in the insurgency view the situation on the ground. Al Douri clearly sees that the Coalition and Iraqi government have momentum against the insurgency and al Qaeda.

Reconciliation with the likes of al Douri will be difficult, if not impossible. He was just placed at the top of the list of the Iraqi government's most wanted individuals. Al Douri was viewed by some to be Saddam's successor, and he was a ruthless operative directly responsible for the murder of Shia and Kurds during Saddam's rule. His submission to al Qaeda only compounds his past crimes. The Iraqi government will find it almost impossible to reach some sort of agreement with al Douri but must work hard to split any remaining al Douri-led factions from al Qaeda in Iraq.
So on the other hand, part of his desire to turn on AQI is that since the demise of Saddam Hussein last January, leadership of the Baath party has been in dispute, with Syria backing someone other than al Douri, who felt the position should have gone to him.

It also says the Surge must really be working and ordinary Iraqis can't stand the brutal Taliban-like tactics of AQI.

And already there had been reports that the other main Sunni group, the 1920s Revolutionary Brigades, had already joined us against AQI.
The 1920s Revolution Brigade and the U.S. have come to an agreement that the armed groups will stay off the streets in the daylight, while the U.S. Army is coordinating activities, establishing the Sunni insurgents as local police forces and providing equipment such as radios.

The 1920s Revolution Brigades is considered the "nationalist element" of the Sunni, largely made up of members of Saddam's disbanded army and tribesmen. The Buhriz group turned on al Qaeda in April, after the group terrorized the local population.
The Baath party is denying all this of course, but even if it's just wishful thinking or propaganda, it makes the enemy have doubts and is bad for their morale.

The writing is on the wall!


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