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The latest news from Iraq is that Sunni clerics are urging their followers to join the military and police forces. On the surface this sounds like another step towards peace and cooperation between all parties in Iraq, and we'll certainly hope that it is. But a look at the coverage in the Washington Post and the New York Times reinforces the concept that in Iraq, nothing is as it seems.
Pay close attention to the future actions of the Association of Muslim Scholars, perhaps the most influential organization among Iraq's Sunni population. The American media acknowledges that fact but generally neglects to reveal everything it could about them. The Times, for instance, describes the group's actions in this manner:
In the past, members of the association have often complained about injustices committed by Iraqi soldiers and police officers and by the American military.Which is true, but leaves out details. The 'injustices' referred to include this response to the American/Iraqi assault on the terrorist-held city of Samarra last fall, a warm-up to the attack on Fallujah.
"The hospital is full of bodies, children are buried in the gardens, and there are bodies filling the streets," said Muhammad Bashar al-Faidhi, one of the members of the group in Baghdad who said he was basing his accusations on witness accounts. It was impossible to independently verify his claims.Most other descriptions of the scene - including those from reporters - varied significantly from that dramatic visual. Recall that the much-larger assault on Fallujah began with the capture of the hospital in response to those earlier claims.
Iraq the Model presented some evidence of the group's financial support to terrorist groups and ties to the former regime. This would seem to be conventional wisdom among the people of Iraq. The "scholars" were also responsible for the lack of Sunni participation in the January elections.
"After the judicial committee of the Jihad Organization interrogated the Italian captive Giuliana Sgrena, it has been found that the Italian captive is not involved in spying for the infidels in Iraq," the group said in a statement posted on a website that frequently carries messages from Islamic militants.It's widely suspected that the Italian government paid a large ransom for her return.
"In response to the appeal made by the Muslim Scholars' Assn., we, in the Jihad Organization, will free the Italian captive in the next few days," the statement added.
The Iraqi army and police forces are assumed to have been infiltrated by terrorists, former regime loyalists, etc. Many of the difficulties in launching these organizations (public beheadings of captured Iraqi soldiers, etc.) were likely caused by these 'troops'. It will be interesting to see if the Association of Muslim Scholars will actively encourage it's adherents to seek training from the police and military too. (Wink wink...) This is either the next step towards lasting peace, or the first phase of a new war.
The great game indeed.