Sunday, December 11, 2005
Iraqi insurgents urge Sunnis to vote, warn Zarqawi
FALLUJA/RAMADI Iraq (Reuters) - Saddam Hussein loyalists who violently opposed January elections have made an about-face as Thursday's polls near, urging fellow Sunni Arabs to vote and warning al Qaeda militants not to attack.
In a move unthinkable in the bloody run-up to the last election, guerrillas in the western insurgent heartland of Anbar province say they are even prepared to protect voting stations from fighters loyal to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, leader of al Qaeda in Iraq.
Graffiti calling for holy war is now hard to find.
"We want to see a nationalist government that will have a balance of interests. So our Sunni brothers will be safe when they vote," said Falluja resident Ali Mahmoud, a former army officer and rocket specialist under Saddam's Baath party.
"Sunnis should vote to make political gains. We have sent leaflets telling al Qaeda that they will face us if they attack voters."
That's good news. I hope that the participation of Sunnis will allow for a gradual withdrawal of US troops from the Sunni areas. I hope as well that the Sunni insurgents (mainly the Baathists and Saddamists) have reached the conclusion that they can have a share of the pie and not the whole pie. It would be awesome if those Sunni rebels saw the benefit of political participation coupled with a gradual US withdrawal from their areas. As a result, they would join together in protecting their area and eventually turn against the Jihadis.
Whom will the Sunnis vote for?
1.Tawafoq Iraqi Front
The TIF is a coalition of religious parties and individuals. They are expected to garner the largest share of the Sunni vote. They will fare well in the Sunni triangle where religion is a big thing.
He leads the Hewar National Iraqi Front. He is an Arab nationalist Sunni politician. He might not do as well as the TIF, yet he is expected to get a good share of the Sunni vote. I am so glad Mutlag managed to position himself within the Sunni community because he is a secular.
Believe it or not, Iyad Allawi's list does have some support among Sunnis, especially the educated secular Sunnis in large cities like Baghdad and Mosul.
In addition, Sheikh Ghazi El Yawer, the former president and the leader of the Shammar tribe, is on Allawi's list and so some Sunnis will vote for this list because of the presence of Sheikh Yawer.
Lastly, some Sunnis see Allawi as a former Baathist who, unlike the religious Shias, does not want to implement harsh de-baathification. Also, some see him as a bulwark against Iran and its surrogates in Iraq.