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January 3, 2006
Sunnis And Kurds Near Political Arrangement

The growth of political dealmakiing grows in Iraq, as the largest Sunni group announced that it had reached preliminary agreement with the Kurds to create a framework for a coalition government, one they could implement as soon as the election commissions review the voting process from last month' elections. The move would provide either a sizable addition to a coalition government, or a stable opposition bloc to the Shi'ite plurality within the National Assembly and could induce the insurgency to recede as Sunni influence in the new government grows:

The largest Sunni Arab political group in Iraq unexpectedly moved toward agreement with Kurdish leaders Monday on a broad framework for a coalition government. The group, the Iraqi Consensus Front, said it would abandon claims that national elections last month had been rigged once international election monitors finish their review of the allegations.

The move drew a rebuke from other Sunni Arab political leaders who accused the Sunni consensus party of violating an agreement to press ahead with claims of Sunni disenfranchisement during the vote on Dec. 15 and to not bargain on their own for a role in the new government. ...

A Sunni consensus party official, Ahmad Rushdi, said that meetings in Iraqi Kurdistan between the party and the Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani yielded "an agreement that the results from the international monitoring committee" - which is examining the vote - "would be approved." After results are final, he said, "discussion will continue about the formation of the upcoming government."

If the Kurds and Sunnis eventually did reach a political agreement, any deal to ultimately be part of a coalition government would be shaped by the dominant Shiite political alliance, which is expected to control nearly half the seats in parliament.

This surprising development promises something more -- a first agreement between the Kurds and the Sunni on political alliance shows a remarkable shift between the former oppressors and the people they oppressed. If the Kurds feel comfortable partnering with the Sunnis, it shows that decades of enmity can be set aside in a new democratic process -- and it proves to the Sunnis that they will comprise an important part of Iraqi politics. That kind of inclusiveness will motivate even further Sunni participation in Iraqi politics and discourage the destabilizing insurgencies that already appear to have lost the imagination of the Iraqi people.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at January 3, 2006 6:19 AM

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