Sunday, December 11, 2005

Iraq- A Little Stronger Still

Back in October I posted Iraq- A little Bit Stronger on the topic of progress in Iraq.


Sunni representation was missing. Jihadists and Baathists used all means possible to intimidate moderates. Radical clerics used all influence at their disposal to boycott the Government. Political mistakes were made by both the Shiite-Kurdish and Coalition authorities, which alienated other Sunnis.

However, despite the calls for an emirate by al Qaida and the skepticism of the Arab League, the new republic produced a parliament. That January victory, even with turbulence, laid the groundwork for change in the present political scene in Iraq.

Sunnis saw a new active parliament and a thriving media as political life developed before their eyes. By August 2005, there was a Sunni "position" toward the constitutional debate. Many Sunnis distanced themselves from Zarqawi's "refusal of all constitutions" and chose criticism of the constitution instead.

Now today we see this.

FALLUJA/RAMADI Iraq (Reuters) - "Saddam Hussein loyalists who violently opposed January elections have made an about-face as Thursday's polls near, urging fellow Sunni Arabs to vote and warning al Qaeda militants not to attack.

In a move unthinkable in the bloody run-up to the last election, guerrillas in the western insurgent heartland of Anbar province say they are even prepared to protect voting stations from fighters loyal to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, leader of al Qaeda in Iraq.

Graffiti calling for holy war is now hard to find.

Instead, election campaign posters dominate buildings in the rebel strongholds of Ramadi and nearby Falluja, where Sunnis staged a boycott or were too scared to vote last time around.

"We want to see a nationalist government that will have a balance of interests. So our Sunni brothers will be safe when they vote," said Falluja resident Ali Mahmoud, a former army officer and rocket specialist under Saddam's Baath party.

"Sunnis should vote to make political gains. We have sent leaflets telling al Qaeda that they will face us if they attack voters."

The shift is encouraging for Washington, which hopes to draw Sunni Arabs into peaceful politics in order to defuse the insurgency.

The Baathist warning to al Qaeda raises the possibility of a wider rift between secular Saddam loyalists and fundamentalist militants, who have been cooperating in their efforts to drive out U.S. forces."

Without even going into much "good news" detail, how is it possible to not see consistent progress in Iraq?

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