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Friday, August 17, 2007

al-Maliki Courting Sunni Tribes

Understanding the urgency for reconciliation and political progress to follow the progress we are seeing Militarily in Iraq, al-Maliki in an amazing turnaround is courting the Sunni's of Iraq.

Nouri al-Maliki's bold sojourn into Tikrit — a city once pampered by Saddam, its favorite son — underlined the prime minister's determination to save his paralyzed government from collapse and prevent further disillusionment in Washington as voices grow for a troop withdrawal plan.

The sharp alteration in the government's political course — a willingness to travel to the belly of the Sunni insurgency and talk with former enemies — suggested a new flexibility from the hard-line religious Shiites who hold considerable influence over al-Maliki's views.

It also pointed to an apparent shift in military and political attention to northern Iraq as extremists seek new bases after being driven from Baghdad and strongholds in central Iraq by U.S.-led offensives.

"There is more uniting us than dividing us," al-Maliki told sheiks in Tikrit, 80 miles north of Baghdad. "We do not want to allow al-Qaida and the militias to exist for our coming generations. Fighting terrorism gives us a way to unite."

Al-Maliki's turnaround has been startling, given accusations of a bias in favor of his Shiite sect.

He owed his premiership to the backing of radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, nominal head of the Mahdi Army militia that has cleared entire mixed Baghdad neighborhoods of Sunni residents.

Throughout his first year in office, al-Maliki sought to protect the fighters from U.S. raids on their Sadr City stronghold in eastern Baghdad. He ended these safeguards this spring after al-Sadr loyalists quit the Cabinet because al-Maliki refused to set a timetable for an American withdrawal.

The prime minister reportedly engaged in heated arguments with the top U.S. commander in Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus, when the U.S. military began signing on former Sunni insurgents in the fight against al-Qaida in Anbar Province in Iraq's west and Diyala province, north of the capital.

Now, al-Maliki is courting Sunni tribes in the north to join him.

Due to the wonderful strategy and work of General Petraeus, our military and the coalition forces, we are seeing progress in Iraq that even the Democratic politicians are being forced to admit as they return from Iraq. (At least those that are willing to put the truth and success above their political posturing.)

As the security continues to progress, despite the high profile al-Qaeda attacks meant to convince OUR Congress to prematurely withdraw our troops from Iraq, the Iraqi politicians are working, YES WORKING, during their "recess vacation", on bringing the political parties together in Iraq so that the political reforms that are needed can be accomplished.

Let us hope al-Maliki can get the momentum needed to succeed sooner than we expected.

More over at Hot Air.


More analysis from Captain's Quarters

Opposing Sadr will help build trust with Sunni leadership. They have bitterly complained about security efforts being focused on Sunnis while Sadr's Mahdi Army continues to operate against Sunnis in mixed sectarian populations. If Maliki has broken with Sadr, then the Sunnis will have an opening to flex some political muscle. And with the effort of General Petraeus and the American forces in western and central Iraq, the unity and purpose of those Sunni tribes can work to Maliki's benefit with recalcitrant Shi'ites.

The personal appeal, coming directly to the heart of Saddam's former power base, is a spectacular move by Maliki. Up to now, he's mostly been known as a sectarian forced to deal with Sunnis and Kurds by circumstance. He may have finally taken the necessary steps to become the statesman Iraq needs, and the father of their liberated national unity most of them desire.

[End Update]

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