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Along with other under-reported news from Iraq...
Now that the leader of the Muslim Scholars Association has fled the country, other members of the group are signaling they might be ready for compromise. The LA Times offers a rare "good news" story from Iraq:
BAGHDAD — With sectarian violence reaching new extremes, some Sunni Muslim clerics are breaking with the most militant factions in their sect and reaching out to Shiite clergy in an effort to pull Iraq back from the abyss.There's not much deep background in the (still most welcome) Times piece, so if you haven't been following the storyline, this might be a good starting point. Back-links should tell you all you need to know. If you have been following, you'll know that fractures in the Association of Muslim Scholars, following on the heels of the Anbar Tribes commitment to battle al Qaeda, are a hopeful signal. (And that an American media outlet even hinting that the group is tied to terrorists in Iraq is, too - see second quoted paragraph above - but that's another story altogether.)
Some members of the Muslim Scholars Assn., which has acted as a broker between Western officials and members of the country's Sunni-driven insurgency, worry that their group has done little more than clasp hands before television cameras with their Shiite counterparts and issue joint appeals for calm.
"The Muslim Scholars Assn. so far has not participated in any real, effective negotiations," said Sheik Mahmoud Sumaidaie, a senior member who preaches at the organization's Baghdad headquarters, the Umm Qura Mosque.
Sumaidaie said more than 70 clerics across Iraq want to form a new religious council that can unite all Sunni factions and open a channel of communication with Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, the country's most revered Shiite cleric. Without it, he said, "we will never be able to stop the bloodshed in Iraq."
Now back to this one:
In defiance of national leaders, Sunni clerics representing the association in Basra, Nasiriya, Amarah and Samawah issued religious edicts Wednesday banning the killing of all Iraqis, supporting reconstruction of a revered Shiite shrine and disavowing "any terrorist organization targeting the innocent blood of our people."For balance, the Times includes an interview with Harith Dhari, leader (or perhaps "former leader"?) of the Muslim Scholars Association who recently fled Iraq for Jordan:
After consulting local political and tribal leaders, the southern branch went ahead and issued its fatwa, or edict, including a specific ban on killing Shiites, language others have so far avoided.
"We did this to please God and our conscience," Abdalrazaq said. "We hope that we will be able to apply this fatwa to the reality on the ground, as it gives us a chance to live side by side with our brother, the Shiites, in the south."
Sumaidaie, the Baghdad cleric, said support for a more moderate approach extended across Iraq, though he refused to supply names, citing concern for members' safety.
He said that the Muslim Scholars Assn. had become too closely identified with the insurgency and that he had been working for three months to help form a new, strictly religious body that he hoped could unify all Sunnis in Iraq.
Sadr demanded that Harith Dhari, the leader of the Muslim Scholars Assn. who is wanted on charges of inciting terrorism, issue edicts forbidding the killing of Shiites, banning participation in the group Al Qaeda in Iraq and supporting reconstruction of the Samarra shrine.Haider Ajina brought us a translated version of this story from the Iraqi media, too.
Dhari said he had already repeatedly denounced the killing of any Muslim and did not see the need to do so again. "Why is Sadr saying it now? Is he trying to provoke a problem?" Dhari asked The Times in a rare interview with a Western newspaper this week in neighboring Jordan.
He sidestepped the question of whether he is prepared to denounce Al Qaeda in Iraq, which is blamed for some of the deadliest attacks against the Shiite-led government and civilians.
That's the good news. But dig deep enough into the Times' bad news story on Iraq and you'll find the hidden gold there also. Although the two developments aren't connected by the Times, this is probably the main reason the "Scholars" association is talking peace - the latest on the "Sunni-vs-Sunni civil war" in al Anbar:
In Al Anbar, Iraq's Sunni heartland, members of the Al Anbar Salvation Council, a Sunni tribal militia, battled suspected Al Qaeda fighters north of Fallouja and in Ramadi. An Iraqi police official in the Fallouja suburb of Garma said militiamen killed 15 Al Qaeda members. Five council fighters were killed.Here's a previous story on this topic, too. The US has most definitely taken sides in this one.
"The capability of the security forces has increased with the assistance of the tribes," said Brig. Gen. Hamid Shouka, Ramadi's police chief. "We have started to take over important responsibilities and missions that are having a great impact on Al Qaeda. In the coming days, we will hit them in Fallouja, Hit and Haditha until we eradicate them all."
These aren't the big, front page headline stories they should be, but it's good to see them being told.
But there's plenty of other news from Iraq that doesn't "make the papers"; for that we'll turn to CENTCOM:
BAGHDAD, Iraq — The Central Criminal Court of Iraq, between November 10th to the 23rd convicted 41 individuals for variety of crimes including possession of illegal weapons, possessing false civil affair identifications, failure to renew resident identification and illegal border crossing.
The trial court found an Iraqi man guilty of participating in terrorist activities and attacking Iraqi Forces and Multi-National Forces in violation of Article 4/1 of the anti-terrorist laws. MNF apprehended the defendant during a targeted raid. The defendant confessed to participating in the video production of the Merez dining facility bombing that killed 18 MNF servicemembers and wounded another 30. On November 13, 2006 the trial panel found the defendant guilty and sentenced him to death.
The trial court found a Sudanese man guilty of violating Article 24/ Residency / Entering Iraqi Border Illegally. MNF apprehended the defendant in a targeted raid to disrupt anti-Iraqi Forces and anti-MNF elements. The defendant admitted to entering Iraq for terrorist purposes. On November 14, 2006 the trial panel sentenced him to life imprisonment.
The trial court found an Iraqi man guilty of possession of illegal special weapons in violation of Order 3/2003, Section 6, Paragraph 2B. MNF apprehended the defendant in a white vehicle parked outside of a targeted compound. A search of the defendant revealed one grenade and one pistol. On November 13, 2006 the trial panel sentenced him to 15 years imprisonment.
The trial court found an Iraqi man guilty of possession of illegal special weapons in violation of Order 3/2003, Section 6, Paragraph 2B. MNF apprehended the defendant after taking fire from his vehicle. The defendant tried to flee in his vehicle. A search of the vehicle revealed a large cache of weapons as well as IED making materials. On November 15, 2006 the trial panel sentenced the defendant to 15 years imprisonment.
The trial court found four Iraqi men guilty of possession of illegal special weapons, in violation of Order 3/2003 Section 6, Paragraph 2B. MNF were conducting a vehicle patrol in Fallujah and observed a vehicle operating suspiciously. MNF stopped the vehicle and searched it. All four defendants were in the vehicle. When MNF began the search, one defendant attempted to flee. The vehicle search revealed a large weapons cache. On November 20, 2006, the trial panel sentenced the four men to 15 years imprisonment.
The trial court found a Saudi Arabian man guilty of violation of Article 10/1 of the Iraq Passport Law. MNF apprehended the defendant in Anbar for attempting to set an ambush for MNF using AK-47’s. On November 20, 2006 the trial panel sentenced him to 15 years imprisonment.
The trial court found three Iraqi brothers guilty of possession of illegal special weapons in violation of Order 3/2003, Section 6, Paragraph 2/A. MNF received information that this targeted house had an unmanned aerial view (UAV) camera for sale that was obtained from a UAV that had crashed. All three defendants were in the house when it was raided. A search of the house revealed a large weapons cache, sections of the UAV and anti-MNF propaganda. On November 21, 2006 the trial panel sentenced all three defendants to 15 years each imprisonment.
The trial court found an Algerian man guilty of illegal border crossing in violation of Section 10 / First / A of the Passport Law. MNF apprehended the man during a raid on a home known to house foreign terrorists in the area of Mosul. On November 22, 2006 the trial panel sentenced the man to 15 years imprisonment.
Those convicted of passport violations, forging official documents, possession of illegal weapons, taking advantage of someone else’s legal documents and entering the country illegally, were sentenced from between 6 months to 10 years imprisonment. Those convicted included 18 Iraqis, three each from Egypt and Syria as well as one each from Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Jordan and Sudan.
Since its establishment in April 2004, the Central Criminal Court has held 1,740 trials for Coalition-apprehended insurgents. The proceedings have resulted in 1,501 convictions with sentences ranging up to death.
preparation for the "Peace and Safety" scenario. Peace from War, Safety from Terrorism. Rapture may be on the horizon.Posted by Douglas V. Gibbs at December 1, 2006 05:29 AM
A clown on another site recently claimed that al qaeda/foreign fighters were responsible for only "1-3%" ot attacks in Iraq.
That sounds awfully fishy to me, but I'm not sure where to look to debunk that. If you could point me in the right direction, I'd sure appreciate. Just email info or links to my email. Thanks!Posted by kyle at December 1, 2006 04:03 PM
I'm sorry but I just don't believe ANYTHING that ANY Iraqi says at this point. Particularly any Sunni Iraqi spokesman .It we added up all the fatwas and solemn declarations of 'solidarity' between all Iraqis and the pretentious injunctions to abstain from violence, we would be able to lay a sea of paper from here to Baghdad. Useless paper but a sea of it nonetheless.
For the last 2 years I have been convinced that the Sunnis will not be satisfied until they find themselves cornered in some decrepit hellhole such as Ramadi waiting for the ENRAGED Shia hoards to drive the final nail into their self-constructed coffin. Now I am not saying that this course of action is the result of a conscious method. Far from it. It is the result of an inchoate 'group-think' that simply is not geared to the 'new' realities. What they intended is not at all what they will now receive. They(or their leaders) are in equal measure fanatical, delusional, and strategically clueless. History usually mandates a certain and inevitable cure for those fatal character flaws.
They wanted still to be masters of all and will end up by simply being not even masters of their own domain. Their chosen course is like a slow-motion train wreck. No-one can predict exactly which cars on the train will end up pulverised and which might magically survive the impact, but that the Sunni train has left the tracks is, I fear, undeniable.
This group can say this, and that group can say that, but really, all we are now waiting for is that famous fat lady to enter stage-left.
Tick --- tockPosted by dougf at December 1, 2006 05:25 PM
The sentencing report suggests the rule of law is gaining credence as a way to solve problems in Iraq. If so, that's a very good development.Posted by DRJ at December 1, 2006 06:50 PM Hide Comments | Show/Add Comments in Popup Window(4) | (Note: You must refresh main page to view newly posted comments here)