Several Sunni-led insurgent groups have approached the Iraqi government to try to start negotiations after the Iraqi prime minister's presentation on Sunday of a limited plan for reconciliation, a senior legislator from the prime minister's party said Monday.
The groups have made no demands yet, but wanted to express their views to top government officials, said the legislator, Hassan al-Suneid. "There are signals" from "some armed groups to sit at the negotiating table," said Mr. Suneid, who, like the prime minister, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, belongs to the Islamic Dawa Party, a conservative Shiite group.
The groups, made up of Iraqi nationalist fighters, have floated their proposal through Sunni Arab negotiators, Mr. Suneid said in a telephone interview. Although he described the groups as armed, he said they "are not implicated in the bloodletting of Iraqis."
Mr. Suneid declined to say how many groups wanted to open talks, who they were and how big or influential they were. There are indications that seven insurgent factions are involved.
The size and identification of the groups is not known although at some point the names of 6 groups were associated with those making overtures. The person who is initially identifed as having name them now denied doing so:
The Associated Press reported Monday that Mr. Suneid, the Shiite legislator, identified six of the seven groups he said had approached the government. They were the 1920 Revolution Brigades, the Army of Muhammad, the Heroes of Iraq, the Ninth of April Group, Al Fatah Brigades and the Brigades of the General Command of the Armed Forces.
But when asked later about those names, Mr. Suneid said he had never mentioned them.
Information is sketchy about these groups but some can be found. 1920 Revolution Brigades here. Another source on that group:
One of the seven groups, the 1920 Revolution Brigades, operates primarily in Anbar province. The organisation claims it has conducted operations only against US forces. They and other insurgents were said to have protected polling places in Anbar province during December parliamentary voting.
Army of Muhammad informationhere. Another source has this to say about the Army of Muhammad:
The Mohammed Army is made up of former members of Saddam‘s Baath Party, members of his elite Republican Guards and former military commanders. It, too, has focused attacks on the U.S. military and played a role in the November 2004 battle for Fallujah.
It further identifies these particular groups as mostly former Ba'athists and Republican Guard members:
The seven lesser groups, most of them believed populated by former members or backers of Saddam Hussein ‘s government, military or security agencies, have said they want a truce, Hassan al-Suneid, a lawmaker and member of the political bureau of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki‘s Dawa Party, told The Associated Press.
Another point to consider:
This is not the first time insurgent groups have approached the government, Mr. Suneid said. Earlier this year, those same groups began discussions with President Jalal Talabani, a powerful Kurd. An aide to Mr. Talabani told reporters in April that he had spoken to seven guerrilla groups and that an agreement "was possible."
Mr. Suneid said the groups appeared to be interpreting the latest reconciliation plan as an opening for them to reach out to Mr. Maliki and bring the earlier talks to a new level.
"The Sunni mediators told me there's a kind of positive approach by these armed groups in response to this initiative," he said. "I think the initiative will open up a new atmosphere for these dialogues and upgrade them."
So this isn't the first attempt by these groups to "come in from the cold" so to speak. It does, however, indicate the seriousness of their intent. There isn't any information on queries by other insurgent groups to the offer. Some in the government feel the offer isn't enough:
Al-Maliki unveiled his 24-point national reconciliation initiative on Sunday, offering amnesty to insurgents who renounce violence and have not committed terror attacks. Iraq’s Sunni vice president Tareq al-Hashemi said the plan was “not enough to attract” those fighting US-led forces in Iraq.
Some, of course, and as expected, have rejected the offer:
The Mujahedeen Shura Council, the terrorist umbrella organisation that includes al-Qaeda in Iraq, rejected the reconciliation plan.
"The servant of the crusaders, Nouri al-Maliki, has come forward with a new, sinister project aimed at extracting his crusader overlords from their morass," the organisation said in an internet statement.
As for the 7 in negotiations, an interesting twist:
Othman was unable to name the groups or say whether they were the same ones Talibani had contacted. But he said they also sought talks with US forces.
"They want negotiation with the Americans. The seven groups have real fears of the Iranian influence. They think that the Americans will eventually leave, but Iran is a neighbour and is not going anywhere," he said.
They see Iran as the real threat (given that the insurgents are mostly Sunni and Iran Shia) and have apparently bought into the idea that the Americans are going to leave Iraq at some date in the not too distant future.
Meanwhile, now that the 24 point plan has been announced, several of its points are now being negotiated and modified within the government. Look for a modified version to emerge within the coming weeks.
It also seems that the "local" groups are wising up to or at least becoming wary of, the imported "insurgents" true agenda. This also has a positive sound to it.
Well YEAH... the imports want to impose the Sharia and create a Taliban-like state. The Sunni’s represent Arab secularism and Iraqi nationalism, and the "Prince of Iraq" (Zarqawi) was a JORDANIAN! It would be as if Canadians sent Trudeau to the US to support an a rebellion to install Canadian-style government in the United States. Not always a good match. Both sides agreed that the US needed to go home and that the Shi’i and Kurds needed to keep their place(s) with the Sunni on top.
Of course this is merely window dressing for the US admission of Quagmire...Defeat...Neo-con over-reach (that’s for YOU Shark)...Soon Iraq will be run by Iran, so take that NEO-CONS!
So the Iraqi insurgency may have had a plan to win their war, but they had not, before now, come up with a plan to "win the peace"?
Why is having Iraqis run Iraq any more choke-inducing to neo-cons than, say, living with Kuwaitis running Euwait or a bunch of Arab Emirs running the United Arab Emirates? As more of a paleo-con my own self I don’t understand why setting up a solid Iraqi republic is supposed to run counter to conservative tastes.
When are we going to be able to pull the troops out, by the way. From Korea, I mean? Surely the local pro-US forces ought to be able to grant amnesty to the impoverished insurgent/militants in the northern provinces; make some sort of deal with the warlord Kim, and allow the US to "bring the troops home" (We never use the expression "cut and run") before the 2008 elections. If not, why not?