Al-Quds al-Arabi on a "deal" between Maliki and breakaway Baathists
Sources close to the Baath party said a deal between the Maliki government and a number of party-members led to the split that resulted in the recent special council in Damascus under the protection of the Syrian government. They said that the breakaway branch has no actual presence on the ground in Iraq, particularly since all of the tribes in the provinces of Diyala, Salahhadin, Anbar, and elsewhere, pledged allegiance to the party's General Secretary Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri following the execution of former president Saddam Hussein last month.This is followed by a certain amount of Baath organizational jargon, the gist of which appears to be that the Damascus meeting elected interim leadership, which is now trying to organize an "Iraq-region" general meeting to elect a new secretary-general, in other words to oust Izzat Ibrahim. This report says the efforts to hold a general meeting haven't been successful yet. The leader of the breakaway group that is trying to do this is Muhamad Yunis al-Ahmad.
The sources added that the deal involves the breakaway group entering into talks with the government aimed at an offer of amnesty and other concessions in exchange for the endorsement [of] the legitimacy of the occupation, and of the political process that supports it, thus striking a blow at the resistance.
The sources minimized the importance of the split and said the recent escalation in military operations against the occupation shows that this hasn't had any effect on the resistance. And they said they think the support of Syria for this split in the Baath party aims at obtaining a political card [earning political points] in support of the efforts by Damascus to improve their relationship with the United States.
There isn't any detail on the alleged deal between Maliki and the Yunis group, only this: A spokesman for the Izzat loyalists noted that the scism originated "at the time of, and with agreement for, the execution [of Saddam], and [at the time of and with agreement for] the invitation of Maliki for a group of Baathists to join in the so-called political process, and it comes at the time of the launch of the so-called new Bush strategy and his new policy in Iraq."
The reporter doesn't say what is expected to happen next. Al-Quds al-Arabi supports the resistance and the Iraqi Baath party, and certainly the reference to the breakaway group as having "...agreed to the execution of Saddam" gives this a particularly polemical flavor. However, any reference to any agreement between the Maliki administration and Baathists is important, particularly, as here, on the front page of a widely-read paper. It can probably be expected to alarm not only the Baath loyalists, but died-in-the-wool Shiite supporters of a continuing SCIRI-Dawa dominated government too.