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June 9, 2005
Iraqi Government To Meet Sunni Native Insurgents

The transitional Iraqi government will have its first formal meeting with representatives of the native Sunni insurgency in hopes of reaching an amnesty or other arrangement to quiet the violence and bring more Sunnis into the political process. Not only would such an agreement result in fewer civilian deaths, but it would also ironically hasten the rebuilding of Iraq and allow the foreign troops to leave the country quicker:

Iraq's new government plans to hold its first official meeting as early as tomorrow with members of the Sunni resistance in an effort to end the brutal violence that has left hundreds of civilians dead across the country. Representatives of Sunni insurgent forces from the restive western al-Anbar province plan to sit down with members of Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari's government tomorrow or Saturday, an Iraqi official said on the condition of anonymity.

Experts are not eager to predict whether the meeting will turn the insurgency around, but they believe the talks are an important step toward ending the violence.

"It's pretty important primarily because they have never accepted to talk before," said Patricia Karam of the United States Institute of Peace. "It is the first time the insurgents have shown an indication that they are willing to negotiate."

The group is to include Sunnis from the insurgent hotbeds of Ramadi and Mosul, said the official who works with Iraq's ruling Shi'ite alliance. He did not think representatives of the Baghdad-based insurgency would be present.

The insurgents have not suddenly turned into democrats through a Paulite Damascus conversion; if the scales have fallen from their eyes, that relates to the failure of their cause and their tactics to rally support among the Iraqis. The refusal of the Anglo-American coalition to change course in the face of their violent attacks has also untaught Osama bin Laden's lesson of Mogadishu: they have killed Americans, and yet this time we have not run away. Now they understand that the US has different leadership than in the past, and their terrorist tactics have backfired on them.

Mostly they see that events have passed them by. The elections made them somewhat irrelevant, as their certainty that a Sunni boycott would kill the validity of the polling -- an impression unfortunately advanced by certain American politicians -- created an unpleasant surprise for them last January, as the world cheered when eight million of their fellow Iraqis defied their threats and voted. They now have discovered what it means to be locked out of a democratically-elected government, especially one that has the responsibility of drafting the basic Iraqi law that will guide Iraqi life for the foreseeable future. Most Sunnis now want to have a voice in that process commensurate with their proportion in the population, if not the vote, and time is running out.

For those who give up their arms and who had little to do with the former Ba'athist regime, meaning the lower-level Sunni insurgents, an amnesty probably would be best for both sides. Foreigners like Abu Musab al-Zarqawi or Saddamist henchmen like Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri should await capture and trial. To take terrorists like that into the political structure is akin to inviting cancer to invade the body. The Iraqis already know this, I'm sure.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at June 9, 2005 5:53 AM

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» The Sunnis come to the table from The Loudest Cricket
Captain Ed notes that the Iraqi government is meeting with Sunni insurgents. The biggest lesson the insurgency has learned: The refusal of the Anglo-American coalition to change course in the face of their violent attacks has also untaught Osama bin... [Read More]

Tracked on June 9, 2005 8:34 AM

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