Muqtada Tries to Mediate Between Sunnis and Badr
Three Sunni Arab organizations arranged a meeting of 1,000 Sunni notables on Saturday, in an attempt to form an umbrella group with greater political clout.
The LA Time reports that,
‘ Meanwhile, a tribal leader from Madaen told the gathering that if security conditions didn’t improve in his region, “We will raise arms and nothing will stand in the way of jihad.” ‘
The Washington Post says that the convention passed a resolution that condemned terror but did recognize the legitimacy of attacking “the occupier.” Adnan Dulaim, head of the Sunni Pious Endowments Board, argued for Sunni participation in the civil political process. He is also the activist behind the 3-day mosque strike that began after Friday prayers.
The convention called for the resignation of Bayan Jabr, the minister of the interior. Jabr has long been a prominent member of the Shiite Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), one of two main parties that won the January 30 election. Many Sunnis suspect the Interior Ministry secret police of being behind the kidnapping and killing of Sunni clerics and worshippers. The secret police in turn are suspected of being members of the Badr Corps, the paramilitary of SCIRI.
Jabr angrily refused to step down, saying that only members of parliament had the right to ask for a minister’s resignation. He pointed out that many of the Sunni leaders at the convention had boycotted the election, depriving themselves of a voice in the new government. Al-Hayat says that Jabr also said that he would cooperate “with the devil” to end terrorism in Iraq. He said that plans to reinstitute the death penalty are going forward. He said the Ministry cooperates with all sorts of organizations, but only with regard to “information.” He said a new plan would be put forward to deal with the deterioration in security.
On Saturday morning, a squadron 20 vehicles of the Interior Ministry’s Wolf Brigade secret police was passing by Baiji, north of Baghdad, when guerrillas opened fire on it, killing at least 3 (al-Hayat says 8 died).
al-Hayat: The Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) declined to consider an initiative launched by young Shiite nationalist leader Muqatada al-Sadr to promote a reconciliation between the Association of Muslim Scholars (a hard line Sunni group) and the Badr Organization, the Shiite paramilitary of SCIRI. Al-Hayat says that Sadr, along with Sunni leader Hareth al-Dhari of the AMS and the four grand ayatollahs in Najaf (including Sistani) agreed to issue a call for Iraqis to avoid civil strife.
Saad Qandil, the vice president of the political office in SCIRI, said that the Badr Organization has shown no interest in having Muqtada al-Sadr as a mediator, because his position is “not balanced,” pointing to Sadr’s tilt toward al-Dhari. Sadr had been planning a series of visits to the two organizations in hopes of bringing them together.
At the Sunni convention in Baghdad, the Mosul delegation denounced al-Dhari for seeking a confrontation with the new government. (Al-Dhari’s accusations against the Badr Corps and the Ministry of the Interior are explosive and many believe they could lead to an intensification of Iraq’s unconventional civil war.