Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Surge News - Maliki Government Reaching Out To Sunnis

In a major political development, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, the Shia leader of Iraq, and the Kurdish president of Iraq, Jalal Talibani, will introduce legislation today aimed at overcoming a major sticking point - how to treat and reintegrate former Baathists.

The lack of movement [on legislation] had . . . hampered efforts at reconciliation between the Sunnis and Shiites, he said, since the Sunnis have had little faith that the Shiite government would do anything concrete to help them.

Changing the de-Baathification laws was one of the political goals for the Iraqi government set by the Bush administration six months ago.

Under the proposal by the prime minister and the president, which comes on the heels of meetings held between Mr. Maliki and Sunni insurgent leaders and appears to be an effort to back up his outreach with action, all Baathists would be able to collect their pensions.

In addition, thousands more former Baathists would be allowed to hold government jobs than under the current law. Former Baathists who return to government work would have to sign a pledge that they would refrain from making political statements about the current government.

The law would also set a three-month time limit for Iraqi citizens who have complaints against former Baathists to bring a claim. Then the courts would have six months to rule. Any claims brought subsequently would be thrown out.

The goal of the new law is to take a step toward reconciling Sunnis and Shiites, said Dr. Sadiq al-Raqadi, a political adviser to Mr. Maliki.

. . . Recently, American diplomats and military officials along with Iraqi government officials, including Mr. Maliki, have reached out to Sunni militants in an effort to woo those elements of the insurgency whom Mr. Khalilzad described as “reconcilable insurgents” and isolate the most violent elements.

“There is a real struggle going on in the Sunni Arab part of Iraq between those of Al Qaeda and the other more patriotic groups who want a successful Iraq, an Iraq in which everyone’s rights is respected,” said Mr. Khalilzad. Most of these “patriotic groups” were linked to Mr. Hussein’s former government rather than to the Sunni religious militants with ties to Al Qaeda.

Mr. Khalilzad underscored that there would be no discussions with individuals linked to Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, the insurgent group that claims ties to the Qaeda organization, which has been associated with some of the most destructive attacks in Iraq.

Mr. Khalilzad noted that in the six weeks since the American-backed security plan began, attacks had dropped 25 percent. . . .

And then, in a final bit good news, we learn "Two suicide truck bombs exploded near Ramadi, but initial reports indicated they had killed only the drivers." It is so rare for an NYT peice to end on a happy note, I thought that I should point it out.

Read the whole story here. This is all good news.

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