Saturday, September 03, 2005
It now appears that the Sunnis of Iraq are on their way to enter the political game by mobilizing Sunni voters for future elections. This might be a huge step forward towards isolating the Sunni population and their politicians from the die hard terrorists. I believe it would be a very wise move for the US to open a channel with the Baathists and try to bring them in. Here is why I believe so.
First, with Saddam in prison and the rest of the Baath party in disarray, only the Islamist Sunnis are the ones representing the true aspirations of the Sunni population. This is very bad news. The Sunni Islamists might differ with their Shia counterparts on issues such as federalism but they have no problem imposing ancient rules on the women of Iraq. The resurrection of the secular Baath party will counterweight the influence of the Sunni Islamists so that the former won't be the only "Sunni voice" around.
Second, the Baathists will counterbalance the tremendous influence that Iran has today over Iraq. The current government in Baghdad gets dictated by Tehran, a strong future Sunni voice will limit Iran's dreams for its neighbor.
Third, the current terrorist activities are largely the result of the marriage between former Baathists and Jihadis. Luring the Baathists into the political process will negatively affect the terrorist movement in Iraq. Baathists who are financing the terrorists from Syria should be allowed to return to Iraq and participate in the political process. The US should send CIA agents to forge deals with these people and I don't believe it would be very hard to convince them to come back.
Fourth, let us face it, the Baathists are not worse that many of those who are playing politics in Iraq. Look at Muqtada, is he better than the Baathists?? Look at the militias that turned beautiful Basra into a stronghold of fanatical militias, are they better than the Baathists? I don't think so. The former ruling class of Iraq should be given the same opportunity to participate in the political process just as everybody else.
Nevertheless, while negotiating with the Baathists, they should be told that Saddamism will not be accepted. They should relinquish any dream they had of returning Saddam back to power or of returning the monopoly they once had over Iraq. They will enter the political scene and have all the freedom to operate like anyone else.