Highlights

 
Quotable
I hate those men who would send into war youth to fight and die for them; the pride and cowardice of those old men, making their wars that boys must die.
Mary Roberts Rinehart
Original Blog US Casualties Contact Donate

 
December 20, 2006

Slim Chance for Iraq Reconciliation Recedes


by Jim Lobe

ARBIL - Iraq's national reconciliation conference held over the weekend highlights the gap between the country's various political groups and their lack of consensus on a common basis for reconciliation.

Shia Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's call for the return of members of the country's dissolved army under former president Saddam Hussein was interpreted as positive, but the absence of major Sunni armed groups at the conference held in Baghdad could dash hopes of a comprehensive reconciliation plan.

It is believed that elements loyal to the former ruling Ba'ath Party constitute a vital part of the resistance. Sunni leaders demand the abolition of laws keeping former Ba'athists from official jobs.

Maliki's position on this was seen as confusing and ambiguous.

"National reconciliation embraces all Iraqis except Saddamists and Takfiris [those who declare others to be infidels]," Maliki told the conference.

But he said that the "Iraqi government differentiates between the Ba'athists who didn't commit any crimes against Iraqi people and those who perpetrated big crimes against Iraqi people and continue shedding the blood of Iraqis, and carry out assassinations and terrorist acts."

Several major parliamentary blocs boycotted the conference, including the al-Iraqia slate of first postwar premier Iyad Allawi, the Sunni slate of the Iraqi Front National Dialogue led by Salih al-Mutlak, and the bloc loyal to young cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.

That, in addition to rising violence, has disappointed many who hoped that a workable solution could emerge from the conference.

"In my opinion, neither this conference nor other similar conferences can easily resolve the current problems," Khasro Pirbal, a political analyst from Arbil told IPS. "When there are people in these meetings who don't accept each other, what results can you expect?"

Pirbal said "neighboring countries have turned Iraq into a field for settling old scores." The current tensions in the country are "a part of a historical problem to which several other international and regional parties are contributing now."

The often conflicting views of Iraq's political leaders make it hard for nationwide peace to be realized, many of them acknowledge.

"We have to reiterate that national reconciliation will not include in any way the symbols of Ba'ath Party and its [previous] regime, the criminals, killers, terrorists, and Takfiris and their ideological extensions," Fuad Massoum, head of the Kurdistan Alliance Bloc in the Iraqi parliament, told the reconciliation gathering.

He called for a federal solution, opposed by many others in and outside Iraq. That envisages broad autonomy to regions within a loosely held-together state.

In contrast to Massoum's views, shared by a majority of Kurdish and Shia politicians, Sunnis had a different idea what reconciliation should include.

"We call for a reconsideration of ignoring the military servicemen of the former army [of Saddam Hussein's government], dealing with national resistance and differentiating them from terrorism, and preserving the unity of the state," said Salim Abdullah of the main Sunni bloc, the Iraqi Accordance Front.

On the ground, political discord translates into bloody strife that is threatening to turn into a fully-fledged civil war if not contained.

Sunnis accuse Shia militias of carrying out mass abduction operations against them and attacking their neighborhoods. At checkpoints of sorts, Shia militias can arrest anyone with a Sunni sounding name. In today's Iraq, Sunni names like Omar and Othman can cost you your life at these checkpoints.

Shias, on the other hand, say Sunni extremists are carrying out bombings that ruthlessly target Shia civilians in crowded urban areas. Last month, almost 200 Shias were killed by suicide bombers in Sadr City in the capital.

Iraq's government is under immense pressure from Washington to bring the situation under control. Many warn that if Maliki's government fails to do so, unrest will spread to the rest of the Middle East.

"Iraq's crisis is getting deeper and deeper day after day, and the essentials of Iraq's integrity are falling apart," Fattah Zakhoyi of the Kurdistan Toilers' Party, which has one seat in the parliament of northern Kurdistan, told IPS.

"The political and religious leaders of the country have to realize that this war cannot be continued more than this, and it will jeopardize their interests of their constituents as well as their personal interests."


comments on this article?
 
 
Archives

  • US Jews Open to Palestinian Unity Govt
    3/26/2009

  • Bipartisan Experts Urge 'Partnership' With Russia
    3/17/2009

  • Obama Administration Insists It's Neutral in Salvador Poll
    3/14/2009

  • NGOs Hail Congressional Moves to Ease Embargo
    3/12/2009

  • Call to 'Resist and Deter' Nuclear Iran Gains Key Support
    3/7/2009

  • Washington Ends Diplomatic Embargo of Syria
    3/4/2009

  • Diplomatic, Aid Spending Set to Rise Under Obama Budget
    2/28/2009

  • Many Muslims Reject Terror Tactics, Back Some Goals
    2/26/2009

  • Lugar Report Calls for New Cuba Policy
    2/24/2009

  • U.S.-Israel Storm Clouds Ahead?
    2/20/2009

  • Calls Mount for Obama to Appoint 'Truth Commission'
    2/20/2009

  • Washington's Praise of Venezuelan Vote Suggests D├ętente
    2/19/2009

  • Rightward Shift in Israeli Polls Creates New Headaches
    2/13/2009

  • US Advised to Back Somalia Reconciliation Efforts
    2/12/2009

  • Hawks Urge Boosting Military Spending
    2/5/2009

  • More Troops, More Worries,
    Less Consensus on Afghanistan
    2/4/2009

  • Report: Most Citizens Kept in Dark on Govt Spending
    2/2/2009

  • Obama Raises Hopes of
    Mideast Experts
    1/28/2009

  • Obama Picks Israel-Arab, Afghanistan-Pakistan Negotiators
    1/23/2009

  • Rights Groups Applaud Move to Halt Gitmo Trials
    1/22/2009

  • Obama Offers Internationalist Vision
    1/21/2009

  • Around the World, High Hopes for Obama
    1/20/2009

  • Liberals, Realists Set to Clash in Obama Administration
    1/19/2009

  • Obama Urged to Take Bold Steps Toward Cuba Normalization
    1/15/2009

  • Clinton Stresses 'Cooperative Engagement,' 'Smart Power'
    1/14/2009

  • Bush Foreign Policy Legacy Widely Seen as Disastrous
    1/14/2009

  • Networks' Int'l News Coverage at Record Low in 2008
    1/6/2009

  • Amnesty Calls on Rice to Drop 'Lopsided' Gaza Stance
    1/3/2009

  • Israeli Attack May Complicate Obama's Plans
    12/30/2008

  • Report: Recognizing Hamas Could Help Peace
    12/19/2008

  • Business Groups Support Dismantling Cuba Embargo
    12/8/2008

  • Mumbai Massacre Seen as Major Blow to Regional Strategy
    12/5/2008

  • Obama Urged to Quickly Engage Iran, Syria
    12/3/2008

  • Diplomacy, Multilateralism Stressed by Obama Team
    12/2/2008

  • Obama Foreign Policy: Realists to Reign?
    11/28/2008

  • Hemispheric Group Calls for Major Changes in Americas Policy
    11/25/2008

  • Greybeards Urge Overhaul of Global Governance
    11/21/2008

  • Intelligence Analysts See Multi-Polar, Risky World By 2025
    11/21/2008

  • Obama Urged to Strengthen Ties with UN
    11/20/2008

  • Obama-Tied Think-Tank Calls for Pakistan Shift
    11/18/2008

  • Obama Advised to Forgo More Threats to Iran
    11/17/2008

  • First, Close Gitmo,
    Say Rights Groups
    11/11/2008

  • Obama's Foreign Policy:
    No Sharp Break From Bush
    11/11/2008

  • Coca Cultivation Up Despite Six Years of Plan Colombia
    11/7/2008

  • Obama to Seek Global Re-engagement, But How Much?
    11/6/2008

  • Two, Three, Many Grand Bargains?
    11/3/2008

  • Moving Towards a 'Grand Bargain' in Afghanistan
    10/19/2008

  • Top Ex-Diplomats Slam 'Militarization' of Foreign Policy
    10/16/2008

  • Bush Set to Go With a Whimper, Not a Bang
    10/15/2008

  • Pakistan 'Greatest Single Challenge' to Next President
    10/8/2008

  • Senate Passes Nuke Deal Over Escalation Fears
    10/3/2008

  • Brief Talks With Syria Spur Speculation
    10/1/2008

  • Iran Resolution Shelved in Rare Defeat for AIPAC
    9/27/2008

  • Bipartisan Group Urges Deeper Diplomacy with Muslim World
    9/25/2008

  • White House Still Cautious on Georgia
    9/6/2008

  • US' Somalia Policy Likely to Bring Blowback
    9/4/2008

  • Iran Could Reap Benefits of U.S.-Russian Tensions
    8/28/2008

  • A Really Bad Couple of Weeks for Pax Americana
    8/24/2008

  • Success of Attack on Iran's Nuclear Program Doubtful
    8/9/2008

  • US Gets No Traction in the Middle East
    8/5/2008

  • Gates Strategy Stresses Unconventional Warfare
    8/1/2008

  • Air Force Think Tank Advises Against Iran Attack
    7/31/2008

  • Pakistani PM May Be Pincushion for U.S. Frustration
    7/26/2008

  • Realists Urge Bush to Drop Iran Precondition
    7/23/2008

  • McCain Knee-Capped by Maliki
    7/22/2008

  • Jim Lobe, works as Inter Press Service's correspondent in the Washington, D.C., bureau. He has followed the ups and downs of neo-conservatives since well before their rise in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks.

    Reproduction of material from any original Antiwar.com pages
    without written permission is strictly prohibited.
    Copyright 2003 Antiwar.com