Sunnis return to Maliki government

Those who considered Nouri al-Maliki’s operations in Basra, Umm Qasr, and Sadr City a failure got another cold slap of reality today. The Sunni blocs that left Maliki’s government have returned after Maliki ended the Mahdi Army’s de facto immunity over the last few weeks. It demonstrates the progress made on political reconciliation:

Iraq’s main Sunni Muslim political bloc has agreed in principle to return to the Shiite-led government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki nearly nine months after quitting the Cabinet, lawmakers from the group said Thursday.

A return of the Sunnis would be a boost to al-Maliki, who has struggled to keep together the disparate factions of his government and attempt to reconcile Iraq’s feuding Shiite and Sunni politicians.

Salim Abdullah, a lawmaker and chief spokesman for the Sunni Accordance Front, said that after “positive negotiations” with al-Maliki’s government, a deal in principle was reached under which the Front would hold five Cabinet posts, in addition to a deputy prime minister position.

The SAF based its return explicitly on Maliki’s operations in Basra and Sadr City. The Sunnis had felt the brunt of Sadr’s actions and resented the free hand Maliki was forced to allow Sadr while waiting for his security forces to become strong enough to confront him. Maliki has convinced Kurds, Sunnis, and other Shi’ites of his commitment to democracy and central government control over all Iraq.

Will the media report this return at the same level they reported the Front’s departure?