Thursday, September 14, 2006

Al-Hayat focuses on the question who is feeding the flames of Sunni-Shiite antagonism

Al-Hayat says the re-emergence yesterday of the "death squad" style of leaving corpses on the streets of Baghdad is widely believed to be in reaction to signs of a rapprochement between Sadrists and Sunni groups. The rapprochement in question includes the idea of a timetable for US withdrawal, as well as shelving the federalism project. At least one politician points the finger at the US as among those working to keep the Sunni-Shiite antagonism going. Juan Cole, in his summary today, cites the Al-Hayat item, but leaves out the above points. The points being important, I offer my version of the article as follows:

Al-Hayat, Thursday September 14, 2006

The unidentified bodies were back on the streets of Iraq yesterday, with the discovery of 70 corpses by the Security Forces. A police source said some of the victims had been dead for some time, and yesterday marked the resumption of the exposure of the bodies, some of which were decomposed, and there were signs of shackling, torture, and bullets to the head. It was the return of the "death squad" phenomenon which the Malaki administration had promised to put an end to. Some politicians noted that every time there is any rapprochement between the Sadr movement and the Sunni groups, this phenomenon of the corpses and sectarian killings increases.

[The writer reviews statements by Khameni and Kofi Annan respecting US withdrawal, then continues]

The Shiite UIA yesterday agreed yesterday to a postponement in the application of federalism, and this coincided with a move by the Sadr grouping toward an alliance with the Sunni [Iraqi] Accord [Front] to thwart this [federalism] project. The "exposure of the corpses" came a day after the announcement, by political groups from a variety of coalitions and political orientations and various different [religious] confessions, of what they called a "comprehensive plan" to set a timetable for withdrawal of the multinational forces and a joint stand against the application of federalism.

Nasr Saadi, a leader in the Sadr alliance, said there are elements that don't support any rapprochmenent of attitudes between Shiite and Sunni groups in Iraq, particularly if the Sadrists are a part of that rapprochement. And he accused the US of being involved in attempts to solidify (or confirm, literally "bless") the fissures between Sunni and Shiite in the country.

[And Saadi confirmed that the Sadrists had agreed to a postponement in the application of federalism in the event it is decided upon]

Salih al-Matlak, leader of the National Dialogue group, confirmed that political groups have been trying to find an opening between the Iraqi Accord Front and the Sadrists and the other groupings that are close to them (to the Sadrists), however they [not exactly clear to me who the "they" refers to] tried to exploit the security escalation in order to "split any rapprochement of points of view between groups either inside parliament or outside of it. particularly with respect to crucial issues".

Thafer al-Aani, of the Accord Front, shared with Sunni and Shiite leaders their optimism on the possible "emergence of a national alliance to get beyond the stage of sectarian sensitivities that has cnaracterized the political process since its beginning, in favor of projects that don't concern themselves [with these types of differences], the most notable being the project for ending the occupation".


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