Unconventional thinking about the Middle East.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Ba’athist Ceasefire?

The Associated Press is reporting today that Izzet Al-Douri, Saddam’s former Vice-President and the currently at-large figurehead of the Ba’athist renegades, has called for a general ceasefire. Allegedly, Al-Douri’s couriers carried his message to the various midlevel commanders of the insurgency only after Saddam was found guilty and sentenced to death.

If this story is true, then it bolsters the claims made recently on Talisman Gate that the Sunni insurgency is experiencing fatigue, and that the guilty verdict issued yesterday knocked the wind out of the insurgents’ resolve to fight for re-instating Saddam. It is also seems to confirm the notion that the most recent spike in violence over the last two months was timed to coincide with America’s midterm elections.

And if indeed Al-Douri gave the order, we will see many Ba’athist groups refusing to acknowledge his overall leadership or guidance over the insurgency, and shall continue to fight. But the overall picture will be that of a diminishing atmosphere of chaos, as the insurgents lose momentum and the Iraqi state catches its breath.

Some will tie this new development to ongoing negotiations between the Americans and some insurgent groups in Amman, as well as to the imminent relaxation of some de-Ba’athification regulations. That would be missing the many signs that have demonstrated that the insurgency sees itself being reversed by the combination of shrinking resources, an emboldened Iraqi state, and better information-gathering and counter-insurgency techniques on the part of the American military.

[The AP story is posted in full in the comments section]


Blogger Nibras Kazimi نبراس الكاظمي said...

Saddam lieutenant calls for Baath peace
By STEVEN R. HURST and QASSIM ABDUL-ZAHRA, Associated Press Writers2 hours, 1 minute ago
Saddam Hussein's former second in command, now a fugitive with a $10 million bounty on his head, has ordered Sunni insurgents loyal to the former president to cease attacks, according to government and parliamentary officials who claimed knowledge of the developments.
Four officials in the Iraqi government and parliament, each in a position to hear about largely secret efforts to reach accord with members of the Sunni insurgency, said former Iraqi vice president Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri has ordered insurgent leaders who are linked to Saddam's ousted Baath Party to end attacks within the past two days.
The officials, who said they knew about the order independently because of their contacts with members of the insurgency, said the directive was issued through couriers sometime after Saddam was sentenced on Sunday to hang for crimes against humanity. The four answered questions from The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the information.
It was impossible to verify the statements independently and too early to know if the reported order would have any effect on the war. Former Baathists are thought to be a major component of Sunni resistance to the Shiite-led Iraqi government and foreign forces, but not the only component. On Tuesday, mortar attacks fired into a Shiite neighborhood killed at least 14 people, after an attack on a Sunni neighborhood killed seven, police said.
In a major concession to insurgents and the Sunni community Monday, the government agreed to legislation that would reinstate Baathist officials to positions of responsibility. The Baathist officials had been purged from their jobs in the first days of the U.S. occupation.
Word of al-Douri's message coincided with a call for reconciliation from Saddam himself on Tuesday during his ongoing second trial. The trial is for the Operation Anfal crackdown by Saddam's government against Iraqi Kurds in the late 1980s.
Saddam, speaking to the court in the afternoon session, cited references to the Prophet Muhammad and Jesus who had asked for forgiveness for those who had opposed them.
"I call on all Iraqis, Arabs and Kurds, to forgive, reconcile and shake hands," Saddam said.
Saddam, who has issued previous pleas to spare the Americans, may be trying to influence world opinion and save him from the gallows.
The Iraqi government officials also said that Saddam had sent a message through his lawyers to exiled party members four days before his Sunday sentencing, instructing them to pick a new leader if he were sentenced to die and to join Iraq's political process "for the good of your people."
The U.S. military did not respond to queries about whether American forces had detected a diminution in insurgent attacks by fighters loyal to Saddam.
Despite fears of a surge in attacks by Iraq's Sunnis and renewed revenge killings in the wake of the death sentence, the country has been relatively calm, with most violence carrying the trademark of Shiite death squads.
Iraqi authorities imposed a total curfew on the country Saturday night, on the eve of the verdict, but lifted it at 6 a.m. Tuesday because of the relative peace after the verdict.
But fighting could continue to rage in insurgent areas because there are many other groups still attacking U.S. and Iraqi forces as well as Shiite Muslim civilians and militias.
Among those insurgent organizations are the 1920 Revolution Brigades, the Islamic Army in Iraq, the Muhammad Army and the Mujahedeen Shura Council, the umbrella group for eight other militant groups including al-Qaida in Iraq.
The reported al-Douri order coincided as well with talks currently taking place in Jordan between Americans and insurgent groups, including Baath Party officials, according to several of Iraq's Sunni lawmakers and government officials.
One Sunni lawmaker said the Baathists told U.S. officials they realized they could not take back control of government but that the fighting could not stop without their agreement. The parliament member suggested that Baathists were trying to strike a deal for amnesty or leniency.
Saddam is a Sunni Arab and that sect, a minority in Iraq, was dominant for decades and brutally oppressed the Shiite majority, which seized the levers of power after the former leader was ousted by American forces in April 2003.
A few months after the American invasion, disaffected Sunnis launched the insurgency, which has been responsible for the vast majority of U.S. military casualties and tens of thousands of Shiite deaths.
Last month U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad said the United States had enlisted help from Sunni Arab powerhouses such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates in a bid to bring insurgents to the table.
Washington also has been pressing Iraq's Shiite prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, to agree to an amnesty for insurgents.
In addition to the U.S. talks with insurgents and Baath Party members, the al-Maliki government has dispatched independent missions to Jordan, where meetings took place in Iraq's Embassy with the Baathists "to listen to their point of view," said a senior government official with close insurgent ties. He also demanded anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the information.

6:21 PM, November 07, 2006

Anonymous Anonymous said...

But if a large segment of the population ends up viewing the police etc as political/sectarian militia from which they need protection, won't the Ba'athist insurgency have a second life 'protecting' their villages and neighborhoods? It's worked a treat for the IRA in N Ireland, and I don't think at their worst the RUC could match the abuses by the Shi'a dominated Iraqi army and police.

3:46 AM, November 13, 2006

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