Friday, November 26, 2004

Insurgents and Iraq's January election

What kind of progress or regress in relations between the Iraqi interim government and Iraqi insurgents?

In an interview on 22 Nov (published on openDemocracy on 25 Nov), Yahia Said said:

While trying to create a security environment to hold elections, the government is undermining the political environment that make elections possible.

In an interview also conducted on 22 Nov, consulting editor Bernard Gwertzman asked Anthony Cordesman of CSIS if he thought the Sunnis would participate in the January elections (see here). Cordesman said:

It is very unclear. The organized Sunnis have so far said they won't. But it is a long time, in terms of the dynamics of Iraq, between now and the end of January. The problem for any kind of boycott is that the boycott would mean, essentially, that Iraq's first National Assembly is Shiite and Kurdish, with whatever Sunnis they choose to include. That is a dangerous problem for the Sunnis unless they are absolutely confident that the insurgents can block a [Shiite electoral] victory. It makes it very hard to negotiate over the constitution, over power-sharing, and the sharing of oil revenues and money. That is not exactly the ideal strategy for any person unless it is someone who believes that somehow he can make the current insurgency the springboard to some type of lasting political and military victory.

[The whole interview is definitely worth reading as is Cordesman's longer paper published 23 Nov, Iraq - Playing the Course.]

The New York Times reports that on 25 November the Iraqi foreign minister that said the interim Iraqi government planned to meet soon in Jordan with rebel leaders to try to persuade them to take part in politics:

It is the first time the government had agreed to an official meeting with leaders of the insurgency. The minister, Hoshyar Zebari, did not give a date for the meeting or specify who would be invited (full article here).

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