Monday, May 23, 2005

Iraq - Sunnis End Boycott

The Washington Post reports on the Sunnis joining the political system in Iraq.

BAGHDAD, May 21 -- More than 1,000 Sunni Arab clerics, political leaders and tribal heads ended their two-year boycott of politics in post-Saddam Hussein Iraq on Saturday, uniting in a Sunni bloc that they said would help draft the country's new constitution and compete in elections.

Formation of the group comes during escalating violence between Sunni and Shiite Muslims that has raised the threat of sectarian war. The bloc represents moderate and hard-line members of the Association of Muslim Scholars, the Iraqi Islamic Party and other main groups of the disgruntled Sunni minority toppled from dominance when U.S.-led troops routed Hussein in April 2003.

Sunnis have remained on the sidelines of the Iraqi government since then. Most Sunnis boycotted national elections in January that put the long-suppressed Shiite majority in charge. Meanwhile, a Sunni-led insurgency appears to have become increasingly unpopular among ordinary Iraqis as the death toll from bombings and other attacks climbs.

"The country needs Sunnis to join politics," Adnand Dulaimi, a government-appointed overseer of Sunni religious sites and a leader of the drive to draw Sunnis into the rebuilding of Iraq, declared at the conference Saturday where the bloc was assembled. "The Sunnis are now ready to participate."

"The last elections brought a major turnaround in the political representation of Sunnis,'' Dulaimi said. "We think it's time to take steps to save Iraq's identity, and its unity and independence. . . . Iraq is for all, and Iraq is not sectarian.''

Which means Zarqawi has lost.

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