February 21, 2005

A Sunny Sunni Outlook?

Via Dan Drezner, not only are the Iraqi insurgents beginning to negotiate with the Americans, they're talking about rolling out the welcome mat:
Insurgent representative Abu Mohammed says the nationalists would even tolerate U.S. bases on Iraqi soil. "We don't mind if the invader becomes a guest," he says, suggesting a situation akin to the U.S. military presence in Germany and Japan.
Heh. I dare anyone to tell me they saw that coming. Odds are, though, Abu Mohammed doesn't speak for most insurgents. Anyway, even the slightest prospect of negotiating is encouraging, though I'm still unconvinced that the Association of Muslim Scholars (AMS)—the strident religious council now entering into talks with the Americans—has absolute sway over all of the nationalist Sunnis out there. In addition to the "hard-core Baathists" and the "hard-core Islamists" like Zarqawi who won't ever surrender, there may well be a sizeable number of "hard-core separatists" among many of the tribal-based insurgents out there, who refuse to join any sort of new government. Many of the more virulent Sunni clerics, too, may break with the AMS if they feel they're being "sold out". But I'm still working on this theory and trying to get in touch with scholars who can help me out (or swat me down).

But that, plus a quote from Dan, remind me of something. Dan says: "[I[f memory serves, the Sunnis made similar noises about participating in the political process after Hussein's capture." That's very true, and it's something that's slipped my mind for awhile. After Saddam got hoisted out of his spider-hole, a new Sunni group called the "State Council for the Sunnis" formed, made up of Sufis, Salafis, and some members of the Muslim Brotherhood. In other words, lots of Sunni fundamentalists who didn't necessarily want to take over Iraq or impose an Islamic state, but hated the occupation. The council wanted a say in goings-on within the interim government—and in April they tried to negotiate a truce in Fallujah but were rebuffed (by who?). Eventually the council started feuding with the more influential Association of Muslim Scholars and then just sort of vanished off the map.

But I don't know what this all means for the present situation. It's weird.
-- Brad Plumer 4:03 AM || ||