They just got a different tool to use than we do: They kill innocent lives to achieve objectives. That's what they do. And they're good. They get on the TV screens and they get people to ask questions about, well, you know, this, that or the other. I mean, they're able to kind of say to people: Don't come and bother us, because we will kill you. Bush - Joint News Conference with Blair - 28 July '06

Friday, May 25, 2007

Sunni resistance warms to Muqtada

Nationalist Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's bid to unite Sunnis and Shi'ites on the basis of a common demand for withdrawal of occupation forces from Iraq, reported last weekend by the Washington Post's Sudarsan Raghavan, seems likely to get a positive response from the Sunni armed resistance.

An account given to Pentagon officials by a military officer recently returned from Iraq suggests that Sunni tribal leaders in al-Anbar province, who have generally reflected the views of the

Sunni armed resistance there, are open to working with Muqtada.

According to Raghavan's report on May 20, talks between Muqtada's representatives and Sunni leaders, including leaders of Sunniarmed-resistance factions, began last month. A commander of the 1920 Revolution Brigades, Abu Aja Naemi, confirmed to Raghavan that his organization had been in discussions with Muqtada's representatives.

Muqtada's aides say he was encouraged to launch the new cross-sectarian initiative by the increasingly violent opposition from nationalist Sunni insurgents to the jihadis aligned with al-Qaeda. One of his top aides, Ahmed Shaibani, recalled that the administration of US President George W Bush was arguing that a timetable was unacceptable because of the danger of al-Qaeda taking advantage of a withdrawal. Shaibani told Raghavan that sectarian peace could be advanced if both Muqtada's Mahdi Army and Sunni insurgent groups could unite to weaken al-Qaeda.