Sunnis formally rejoin Maliki government

posted at 8:30 am on July 19, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

The Sunni bloc had negotiated a return to the Nouri al-Maliki government for the past few months, ever since Maliki reclaimed Basra, Amarah, and Sadr City from Moqtada al-Sadr and the Jaish al-Mahdi militias.  Today they formally returned, giving Maliki a key boost to his political fortunes and making it easier for Maliki to get his initiatives through a fractious National Assembly.  It also adds credibility to his efforts to unify and stabilize Iraq:

The main Sunni Muslim bloc in Iraq has rejoined the Shia-led government, in what correspondents called an important step for national reconciliation.  …

The Accord Front’s main reason for leaving the cabinet last August was that the government and security apparatus were dominated by Shia factions with an allegedly sectarian agenda.

The main thrust of security operations at that time was against Sunni-based insurgents, and many thousands of Sunnis were detained, our correspondent says.

Of course, the Maliki government and the US had good reason to prioritize the fight against al-Qaeda in the western, Sunni areas.  They were at the time far more destructive than the Mahdis in the south and the capital and represented a much larger threat to the central government.  The Sunni tribal chiefs had had enough of AQI as well, and the timing worked well for a concerted effort at victory.  Unfortunately, the effort temporarily alienated some of the Sunni lawmakers, especially over the issue of the thousands of Sunnis that got detained indefinitely in the fight.

Maliki’s bold political moves last year and even bolder military moves this year made the difference. At the startof the surge, Maliki started distancing himself from Sadr, allying instead with SCIRI, Sadr’s Shi’ite rivals in the south.  Sadr’s deputies stormed out of his government, but Kurds and other Shi’ites replaced them, effectively marginalizing Sadr, apparently for good.  Maliki went directly to the Sunni tribal chiefs in the west in a show of respect, and they responded positively, if not enthusiastically, to Maliki’s entreaties.  And when Maliki felt his new Iraqi Army had gained the necessary strength to act, he pushed Sadr out of all his power bases in a matter of weeks across a wide swath of the country, and then struck against AQI in Mosul simultaneously.

Before last year, Maliki was seen as a weak sister, the compromise candidate who couldn’t lead.  He has reversed that quite effectively, both inside and outside Iraq, and he can build on that show of strength.  With the Sunnis returning and the Iraqis demonstrating their sovereignty over the entire nation, Maliki should have little problem enacting his slate of legislative reforms, and the provincial elections will likely become a vote of strong confidence in his leadership in October.

Iraq may be almost out of the woods and on its way to a strong, stable democracy in the heart of Southwest Asia.  How many times have we heard that to be impossible?


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So before there were something like 15 of the 18 benchmarks that were meet. And now this – More good news and more political success that the democrats don’t want to see in Iraq. That, on top of the reduced violence from the US military being a tremendous success.

It just keeps getting better and better.

wise_man on July 19, 2008 at 8:39 AM

Petraeus speaks.

US general: al-Qaida may be easing effort in Iraq

By ROBERT BURNS, AP Military Writer 9 minutes ago

BAGHDAD – The top American commander in Iraq tells The Associated Press there are signs that al-Qaida’s senior leaders may be diverting fighters from the war in Iraq to the Afghan frontier.

Gen. David Petraeus said in an interview Saturday in his office in Baghdad that fighters who otherwise would have been sent to carry out bombings and other attacks in Iraq may be going to the rugged, lawless tribal areas of Pakistan along the Afghan border.

He says there are intelligence signs that the heavy pounding al-Qaida has taken in Iraq lately may be causing leaders of the terrorist network to reconsider their priorities.

Yet I doubt Obama will mention either of these things during his visit.

lowandslow on July 19, 2008 at 8:46 AM

More progress.

Yet I doubt Obama will mention either of these things during his visit.

lowandslow on July 19, 2008 at 8:46 AM

I don’t know, I’m willing to bet he’ll try and take credit for the reunification.

Zorro on July 19, 2008 at 8:49 AM

I don’t know, I’m willing to bet he’ll try and take credit for the reunification.

Zorro on July 19, 2008 at 8:49 AM

You could be right, because in his mind he probably thinks it is because of him.

lowandslow on July 19, 2008 at 8:51 AM

I don’t know, I’m willing to bet he’ll try and take credit for the reunification.

Zorro on July 19, 2008 at 8:49 AM

For sure. If coronated he will suck all of the positive stuff out of this situation for himself. But I am still convinced he is still planning on kneecapping Maliki the first chance he gets. There is nothing about Barry that tells me he wants this war to end successfully.

JonRoss on July 19, 2008 at 9:03 AM

Quagmire!

UncleOlaf on July 19, 2008 at 9:04 AM

Thanks lowandslow, being that BhO is your typical low-rent socialist lawyer/politician, in his simple mind his mere presence, or anticipation of his mere presence in Iraq was enough to compel the Sunni to bow to his magnificence and dutifully resume their place in the government.

Zorro on July 19, 2008 at 9:10 AM

Quagmire!
UncleOlaf on July 19, 2008 at 9:04 AM

Civil War!!

wise_man on July 19, 2008 at 9:12 AM

Credit to Barry? NEVAH!…..oh….I forgot….according to the Today show this morning team Barry announced that Barry PRESSURED George to set up a time table with Maliki and negotiations with Iran.

I don’t have a TiVO. Maybe some enterprising digital head out there caught it.

Limerick on July 19, 2008 at 9:14 AM

I don’t know, I’m willing to bet he’ll try and take credit for the reunification.
Zorro on July 19, 2008 at 8:49 AM

He did scrub any mention of his many negative comments about the surge from his website. Obama is going to try to go from “There is no military solution in Iraq. The best way to protect our security and to pressure Iraq’s leaders to resolve their civil war is to begin immediately to remove our combat troops. Not in six months or one year –now.” To “it was my ideal all along, and when Bush finally took my advice, things in Iraq started to turn around, thanks to my leadership.”

wise_man on July 19, 2008 at 9:17 AM

Civil War!!
wise_man on July 19, 2008 at 9:12 AM

Unwinnable!

jimmy the notable on July 19, 2008 at 9:25 AM

… “it was my ideal all along, and when Bush finally took my advice, things in Iraq started to turn around, thanks to my leadership.”

wise_man on July 19, 2008 at 9:17 AM

Well, two can play at that game, by jingo! Let’s get McCain out there claiming credit for some of Obama’s accomplishments.

No, wait – um, we have a problem here…

ss396 on July 19, 2008 at 9:39 AM

I believe there is a faint whiff of Victory in the air…

With any luck the wind won’t change…

darkpixel on July 19, 2008 at 9:47 AM

Unwinnable!

jimmy the notable at 9:25 am-

This war is lost.

profitsbeard on July 19, 2008 at 9:56 AM

This just in from the Assoc. Press:

“Al Qaeda Defeat Attributed to Global Warming”.

FishFearMe on July 19, 2008 at 10:12 AM

Credit to Barry? NEVAH!…..oh….I forgot….according to the Today show this morning team Barry announced that Barry PRESSURED George to set up a time table with Maliki and negotiations with Iran.

Maybe because of this?

Perhaps they new it was coming. If it’s true, Maliki just handed Obama the election. That’s the thanks Bush gets…

bspoogeferd on July 19, 2008 at 10:19 AM

Sorry link didn’t work:

http://www.reuters.com/article/featuredCrisis/idUSL1980090

bspoogeferd on July 19, 2008 at 10:19 AM

Credit to Barry? NEVAH!…..oh….I forgot….according to the Today show this morning team Barry announced that Barry PRESSURED George to set up a time table with Maliki and negotiations with Iran.

I don’t have a TiVO. Maybe some enterprising digital head out there caught it.

Limerick on July 19, 2008 at 9:14 AM

I was afraid of that. It gave him an opening.

a capella on July 19, 2008 at 10:19 AM

When a quagmire dries up, it looks like Iraq.

N. O'Brain on July 19, 2008 at 10:28 AM

bspoogeferd on July 19, 2008 at 10:19 AM

Damn!! That is a stunner. Cuts McCain off at the knees. Is it too much to hope that Reuters took liberty with the quuotes?

a capella on July 19, 2008 at 10:31 AM

The Iraqi government was fearful they couldn’t get another benchmark completed before Obama made his visit, along with all the network anchors who will be fawning all over him.

It was Obama, the empty suited one, that saved the day for the Maliki government.

Let’s all vote for Obama, because he is the most incredibly gifted politician of our lifetimes.

Maybe he’ll write another book quickly, so that will add to his gravitas.

How did Charles Krauthammer put it? “When your biggest accompishment is writing a book about yourself”…..

originalpechanga on July 19, 2008 at 10:31 AM

This is like “Giget Goes To Rome”… the 2008 update.

Somebody cue the “That Girl” theme when BHO gets off the plane.

Mojave Mark on July 19, 2008 at 10:38 AM

If the news keeps on being this good, I’ll have to concede that there is hope for democracy in muslim areas.

thuja on July 19, 2008 at 10:41 AM

Dear New York Times Editor, ABC,NBC,CBS,CNN, Reuters,AP, BBC,

How’s that CIVAL WAR going in your pressrooms?

Rovin on July 19, 2008 at 10:44 AM

Unwinnable!

jimmy the notable at 9:25 am-
This war is lost.

profitsbeard on July 19, 2008 at 9:56 AM

“I’m Harry Reid I endorse this message”

TroubledMonkey on July 19, 2008 at 10:50 AM

AP – Breaking News

Depression on the horizon as certain segments suffer dramatic cuts. Gravediggers and mortuaries hardest hit.

“Another ‘miserable failure’ courtesy the Bush administration,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco). “One would have to engage in a willing suspension of disbelief to consider the surge to be succeeding. How could one possibly think that the Bush catastrophe is going well when an entire segment of the historically, fully employed, Gravedigger’s Coalition is now seeking new work? What is this… Bizarro world?”

Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) has echoed her colleague’s sentiments. Said Reid, “Why is it that Bush and General Petreaus remain intent on destroying the working class not only here in the U.S. but also in Iraq? How can they wake up in the morning knowing gravediggers, the salt of the earth, must now be either retrained for skills they do not possess or walk the streets begging for new corpses to bury just to feed their starving children? It’s unconscionable.”

AnonymousDrivel on July 19, 2008 at 10:52 AM

Why wouldn’t the Sunnis come back now that Maliki has agreed to boot American troops out of Iraq in 16 months?

alphie on July 19, 2008 at 11:13 AM

“Gen. David Petraeus said in an interview Saturday in his office in Baghdad that fighters who otherwise would have been sent to carry out bombings and other attacks in Iraq may be going to the rugged, lawless tribal areas of Pakistan along the Afghan border.”

Two divisions of intractable battle-hardened Marines and superior air power should all but put the “mountain-dwellers” in a “final resting place”—-game, set, match.

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!

Rovin on July 19, 2008 at 11:18 AM

I’m suprised that the most arrogant ass of this forum, the almighty MB4, hasn’t blessed us with his usual negative retort.

Ltmousseman on July 19, 2008 at 11:47 AM

I’m suprised that the most arrogant ass of this forum, the almighty MB4, hasn’t blessed us with his usual negative retort.

Just wait, my friend, just wait….

He’ll tell us what these words really mean and anyone who disagrees is a fool, liar or stupid.

SteveMG on July 19, 2008 at 11:52 AM

Iraq has essentially no air force, little armor, little artillery little surveillance capability and inadequate transport and logistical capability to take on incursion from any of its neighbors. It can fight infantry battles with lightly armed insurgents particularly if supported by an American Overwatch. It will take years to overcome their security deficiencies. In the meantime, as violence declines, we can withdraw significant amounts of our ground forces; but complete withdrawl of everything but trainers and embassy guards, as Obama and now Maliki call for, brings great possibility of domination by Iraq’s neighbors, return of militias and sectarian violence.

This is not just my opinion, it is the opinion of those who return from duty or jobs in Iraq. Talk to them when you get a chance to.

KW64 on July 19, 2008 at 12:04 PM

Why wouldn’t the Sunnis come back now that Maliki has agreed to boot American troops out of Iraq in 16 months?

alphie on July 19, 2008 at 11:13 AM

Sometimes it’s good to read the fine print in contracts. I suspect Maliki would like to retain a little of that good old fashioned U.S. air power and logistics,..just in case he gets in over his head.

a capella on July 19, 2008 at 12:06 PM

UncleOlaf on July 19, 2008 at 9:04 AM

wise_man on July 19, 2008 at 9:12 AM

jimmy the notable on July 19, 2008 at 9:25 AM

profitsbeard on July 19, 2008 at 9:56 AM

TroubledMonkey on July 19, 2008 at 10:50 AM

Cooked-up in Crawford!

Texas Gal on July 19, 2008 at 2:00 PM

From the article:

A number of Sunni Arab states have also been persuaded to revive their diplomatic presence and activities in Baghdad - another demand of the Iraqi Sunnis, our correspondent says.

On Saturday, Iraqi parliament also voted another four ministers to replace those from Moqtada Sadr’s political bloc.

Now that is significant! A Shia dominated government has succeeded in not only fostering the return of the Sunni bloc .. the hard way.. but Sunni Arabs states have been persuaded to give credibility to the Shia dominated government by reopening diplomatic relations. AND Sadr’s political gains in Ministers have been replaced.

Maybe Maliki could invite Nancy and Harry over for a little tutoring on how to get things done!

Texas Gal on July 19, 2008 at 2:08 PM

Knock on wood.

Terrye on July 19, 2008 at 2:25 PM

“and the provincial elections will likely become a vote of strong confidence in his leadership in October.”

Maybe. But Maliki’s source of power is still the Islamic parties, in his case, the Shiites. I believe these provincial elections are going to see a rise of more secular parties and an erosion of the hold the various Islamic slates have. So you will see a national government still dominated by the Islamic parties and the provinces beginning to be led by more secular “unity” slates that have a chance to gain a more national following as they aren’t based on the cultural religious divisions.

I believe Iraq is due for national elections in 2009 and I would not be surprised to see the Islamic slates knocked down a notch or two in their hold on things. That is probably a good thing and politicians will be running on their visions for reconstruction and growth rather than their religious beliefs.

crosspatch on July 19, 2008 at 3:06 PM