A Glimmer of Hope in Iraq
The New York Times reports this afternoon that the mother of all political deals may be coming together in Baghdad, one that would bring Iraq's largest Sunni political bloc back into the Shiite-led government.This is potentially huge news. If this grand bargain goes through (and there is some reason for worry), it would represent a substantial step toward rapprochement between the Sunnis and the Maliki government and toward the formation of a viable, lasting national government. It could also boost the prospects for provincial elections in the fall.
According to the Times:
The Sunni leaders said they were still working out the details of their return, an indication that the deal could still fall through. But such a return would represent a major political victory for Mr. Maliki in the midst of a military operation that has at times been criticized as poorly planned and fraught with risk. The principal group his security forces have been confronting is the Mahdi Army, a powerful militia led by Moktada al-Sadr, the radical Shiite cleric. Even though Mr. Maliki's American-backed offensive against elements of the Mahdi Army has frequently stalled and has led to bitter complaints of civilian casualties, the Sunni leaders said that the government had done enough to address their concerns that they had decided to end their boycott.
"Our conditions were very clear, and the government achieved some of them," said Adnan al-Duleimi, the head of Tawafiq, the largest Sunni bloc in the government. Mr. Duleimi said the achievements included "the general amnesty, chasing down the militias and disbanding them and curbing the outlaws."
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