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December 17, 2005
Sunni Leader Predicts Secular Coalition For Iraq

One of the Sunni political leaders expected to compete for leadership positions in the next Assembly has predicted that Shi'ite religious parties will not win enough seats to form a government and pledged to work with secular Shi'a and Kurds to create the new executive in the first four-year Iraqi National Assembly, the AP reports this morning. He also acknowledged the efforts by native insurgents to stand down during the election to allow the political process to overtake violence, an effort that most hope will bring an end to the terrorist attacks in Iraq:

A leading Sunni politician on Saturday reaffirmed his party's commitment to being part of a coalition government and thanked insurgent groups for refraining from attacks during this week's parliamentary elections.

Adnan al-Dulaimi, a former Islamic studies professor who heads a Sunni Arab bloc expected to have a voice in the new National Assembly, said a power-sharing government was important to "safeguard the rights of Iraqis."

Earlier he predicted that Shiite religious parties will be unable to form a government — even though they are widely expected to take the largest number of seats. That would open the door to a coalition of Sunnis, secular Shiites and Kurds, al-Dulaimi said in an interview Friday.

That may be a bit of wishful thinking. The Shi'a religious bloc will likely get the first opportunity to form a government as their numbers appear to indicate they will take the plurality of seats, among over 300 separate parties contending for representation. However, the religious parties will not form a government on their own; they won't have the majority necessary to act unilaterally. Even if they did, the Shi'ite politicians understand the need to bring partners into the government in a broader, more representative manner. Two of the leading Shi'ites have already discussed the necessity of bringing Sunnis into the action in some manner, and the secular Sunnis would certainly present less problems for a coalition than trying to mix religious enemies for a national-unity government.

The most important development, though, is the unspoken assumption by all of these politicians of the legitimacy of the elections. Given the circumstances of the election, with the Coalition armies providing security and the omnipresent threat of Islamofascist violence all around, it is remarkable that Iraqis have gleefully accepted the elections as a reliable and desirable indicator of public trust. That sense of legitimacy, especially powerful as it has arisen without much comment at all, will act to delegimize the insurgents and pressure the native contingents to stand down permanently and join the legal processes for political determination. That, in turn, will allow all forces to focus on the foreign zealots run by Zarqawi and destroy them.

Expect to see Zarqawi take his network out of Iraq in the near future, possibly relocating to either Syria or Iran while the borders remain relatively fluid enough to allow it. Don't expect either country to be happy to host him, but don't expect them to stop him from his terrorist attacks, either. Zarqawi may well make the decision for us which state sponsor of terrorism will appear next on our radar screen.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at December 17, 2005 8:37 AM

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