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I don't know if we can pick winners, but we may be able to pick a couple of losers, which may be good enough. (Seeing that the right people lose is important, after all). The Sunnis seem to have picked themselves as losers, and to be doing their best to ensure that they'll be driven out of the country in response to their campaign of terror.Now I know that Glenn knows it's nowhere near as simple as Sunni vs Shiite in Iraq, but it might be beneficial to examine one specific - and important - example distinction.
UPDATE: I don't think that what's happening to the Sunnis is a good thing; I just think they've brought it on themselves by foolishly stirring up a civil war that they can't win. They haven't been as canny as I'd hoped. What's going on now is a political, not a military problem -- we'd rather it were a military problem because we're better at military matters than politics -- and it will require an Iraqi political solution. The Sunnis, however, seem to me to have ensured that it will be a solution that they don't like.
Getting away from the headlines, here are the key events to watch unfold.
First, a backgrounder from last year, following the Samarra Shrine bombing. To really know the key players you're going to have to read the whole thing, but here's a jump to the end:
THE movement of Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, alleged to have played a role in the anti-Sunni violence over the last few days, publicly made peace with political and religious Sunni leaders overnight.Sadr is an obvious concern, but if you read the link carefully you know I'm talking about the Muslim Scholars group. They are the ones who declared hundreds of Sunni mosques destroyed and thousands of Sunni dead starting about 30 seconds after the Samarra shrine bombing. They've got a history of similar suspiciously timely press releases. In fact. they've got a long history of opposition to virtually everything (elections, for instance) in Iraq - except al Qaeda. Follow the links in the previous link and you'll get the idea.
Four sheikhs from the Sadr movement made a "pact of honour" with the conservative Sunni Muslim Scholars Association, and called for an end to attacks on places of worship, the shedding of blood and condemning any act leading to sedition.
Now here's today's news on these guys:
Sunni Leader Urges Arab Nations Not To Back Iraq's Shiite-Led GovernmentSounds like back to square one, right? Not quite.
A prominent Sunni religious leader is calling on the international community to end its support for Iraq's Shiite-led government.
Otherwise, he says, Iraq's escalating sectarian violence will spread throughout the Middle East.
The sheik, who heads the Association of Muslim Scholars in Iraq, lives in Jordan.
He's wanted in Iraq on charges of inciting terrorism. The Iraqi Interior Ministry issued an arrest warrant for him earlier this month, but he says he doesn't take the warrant seriously.
His comments Saturday in Cairo, Egypt, come amid a surge in violence between Sunnis and Shiites that has left hundreds dead in Iraq this week.
Sunnis charge that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki isn't serious about disbanding Shiite militias accused of sectarian killings.
"He's wanted in Iraq on charges of inciting terrorism. The Iraqi Interior Ministry issued an arrest warrant for him earlier this month, but he says he doesn't take the warrant seriously." That's part of the story.
Here's the original media coverage of the arrest warrant from last week:
Iraq's Shiite-led government issued an arrest warrant Thursday for the country's leading Sunni Arab cleric, accusing him of colluding with insurgents, a potentially explosive charge that could exacerbate tensions between the country's warring sectarian groups and further divide a fragile national government.Note the western media still offers "cover" to the AMS - " the country's leading Sunni Arab cleric" - more on that shortly. First, here's the follow-up
The move against Harith Dhari, head of the Muslim Scholars Assn., came two days after an audacious daytime kidnapping in Baghdad ruptured the government of Prime Minister Nouri Maliki, setting Sunni politicians against Shiites.
Doubt grows over al-Dhari arrest warrantThat's a sticky political issue the Iraqi government will have to deal with - but one that may become easier with time, as we'll soon see. Whatever the reality, note that Iraq's "leading Sunni Arab cleric" is condemning his nation from the relative safety of Jordan - where he fled some time ago.
Official close to PM disavows plans to seize top Sunni cleric
.."We will work so that the arrest warrant is not acted upon," said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the internal Shiite conflict.
But here's where the story gets interesting. A day later::
Sunni sheiks from Iraq's volatile Anbar province have denounced a powerful Sunni cleric as "a thug" for supporting the al-Qaida terrorist group.So, the Sunni Anbar Salvation Council (background here) busy battling al Qaeda in Anbar, condemns "Iraq's leading Sunni cleric" who has supported al Qaeda from day one, and fled to Jordan some time ago and fears returning to Iraq. Given that Sunnis and Shiites have both declared him persona non grata, that's probably what the wise "scholar" (similar word defined here) would do.
The Anbar Salvation Council, a group of sheiks formed to resist foreign militants in Iraq, also denied accusations by cleric Harith al-Dhari that it was cozying up to the Iraqi government in exchange for money, the New York Times reported Sunday.
"We, on behalf of the Anbar tribes council, say to Harith al-Dhari: If there is a thug, it is you; if there is a killer and a kidnapper, it is you," the Times quoted Sheik Abdul Sattar Buzaigh al-Rishawi as saying.
Iraqi President Jalal Talabani added Dhari was stirring up sectarian strife and trying to enlist the aid of Sunni-led countries to foment violence in Iraq.
Readers can decide for themselves why the American media thinks this loser is "Iraq's most influential Sunni". I suspect that like most tidbits of useless information they get from their "stringers" there's a plausible - if unfortunate - explanation.
Bottom line? It ain't easy, but it ain't over, either.
Update: Coalition forces deliver close air support to the Anbar Salvation Council. This is big.
"Iraq's most influential Sunni"... I presume that group is getting smaller and smaller... kind of the "I'm in charge here" group. Somewhat similar to al Sadr calling himself (or being annointed) a "scholar" when, in fact, he is also just a thug hiding behind the Q'uran (or his version of it)Posted by Some Soldier's Mom at November 26, 2006 03:29 AM
Dhari was also part of the inflammatory (pun intended) horror stories out of Fallujah, including the use of phosphorus which supposedly melted bodies.