Posted by Curt on 25 February, 2006 at 4:29 pm. Be the first to comment!

UPDATE

Bush does the job well once again:

In an unusual round of telephone diplomacy, President Bush spoke with seven leaders of Shiite, Sunni Arab and Kurdish political parties in a bid to defuse the sectarian crisis unleashed by the bombing of the Shiites’ Askariya shrine in Samarra.

Bush “encouraged them to continue to work together to thwart the efforts of the perpetrators of the violence to sow discord among Iraq’s communities,” said Frederick Jones, a spokesman for the White House’s National Security Council.

Reprisal attacks that followed the Wednesday blast in Samarra have derailed talks on a forming new Iraqi government and threaten Washington’s goal of building up a self-sufficient Iraq free of U.S. military involvement.

But Bush’s personal intervention appeared to ease Sunni fears. Tariq al-Hashimi, leader of the Sunni Iraqi Accordance Front, said after speaking with Bush that a new government was the best way to ease the sectarian crisis.

[…]Following Bush’s phone call, the main Sunni political group said in a statement that it would return to talks on joining a new government if Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari followed through on promises to rebuild damaged religious sites and determine who was behind the Samarra bombing and the reprisals attacks on Sunnis that followed.

The Sunnis, who pulled out of government talks Thursday, sent representatives to a meeting with other factions late Saturday at al-Jaafari’s home. Khalilzad, the U.S. ambassador, also attended.

“(Friday) they were fighting each other,” Kurdish politician Mahmoud Othman told The Associated Press. “Until noon (Saturday) there were no improvements but suddenly after Bush called them, they all went to the meeting. There is strong American pressure because they are very much concerned about Iraq.”

END UPDATE

I guess the left is going to be pissed that another one of their dreams, a civil war in Iraq, is not coming true:

THE movement of Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, alleged to have played a role in the anti-Sunni violence over the last few days, publicly made peace with political and religious Sunni leaders overnight.

Four sheikhs from the Sadr movement made a “pact of honour” with the conservative Sunni Muslim Scholars Association, and called for an end to attacks on places of worship, the shedding of blood and condemning any act leading to sedition.

The agreement was made in the particularly symbolic setting of Baghdad’s premier Sunni mosque Abu Hanifa where the Shiite sheikhs prayed under the guidance of Sunni imam Abdel Salam al-Qubaissi.

The meeting was broadcast on television and the religious leaders all “condemned the blowing up of the Shiite mausoleum of Samarra as much as the acts of sabotage against the houses of God as well as the assassinations and terrorisation of Muslims”.

The statement made reference to the key concerns of both communities with the violent aftermath to the attack on the Samarra mausoleum which saw more than 119 people die.

The sheikhs condemned “those who excommunicate Muslims” a reference to the “takfireen” or Islamist extremists like Abu Musab al-Zarqawi who justify killing fellow Muslims by declaring them non-Muslims.

“It is not permitted to spill the Iraqi blood and to touch the houses of God,” said the statement, adding that any mosques taken over by another community should be returned.

The meeting also announced the formation of a commission to “determine the reasons for the crisis with a view to solving it”, while also calling for a timetable for the withdrawal of US troops.

On the political front, Salam al-Maliki, a cabinet minister allied to Sadr, and Iyad al-Sammaraie of the Sunni Islamic Party proclaimed their own reconciliation at a joint press conference, aired on Iraqi state television.

While this appears to be good news the fact that Sadr is taking the front stage is quite unsettling since he is nothing but a thug.

Still, the roving bands of gun-toting, black clad youths attacking Sunnis and their places of worship on Wednesday were widely believed to have connections to the Mehdi Army, the armed wing of Sadr’s movement.

In fact, Sadr’s office in Najaf issued a statement Saturday calling on his followers to eschew their trademark black uniforms.

“The order has been given to members of the Mehdi Army to no longer wear their black uniform, so that it not exploited by those who commit crimes,” said the statement.

The statement added that those attacking mosques were “criminal bands with no links to the Sadr movement.”

It sure does appear Sadr is taking the front stage it’s also apparent he is not going down with the ship. He understands by now that the majority of Iraq believes his forces are behind these attacks and is now trying to throw a life vest over himself: (via Healing Iraq)

The Iraqi Rabita website reports an interview with a Mahdi militia leader today, quoted as saying: “Strange things are happening these days. It’s true that our guys often act as a bunch of spiteful, criminal thieves going on sprees of sabotage, murder and plundering. But the people who were running the act were clean young men, elegantly dressed, in modern vehicles, carrying the latest weapons, unlike our guys who are usually unkempt ruffians. No one knows were they are now.”


Ok then, they call their own forces “unkempt ruffians” in an attempt to distance themselves from the gangs of thugs roving the streets. Gotcha.

The latest updates have even better news that the people are sick of his thugs:

An armed Sunni group was able to retake the Salman Al-Farisi shrine from elements of the Mahdi militia at Madain (Salman Pak), southeast of Baghdad, this evening. It was reported that they have seized a large amount of weapons and ammunition from the periphery of the shrine. It should be mentioned that there is a huge presence of Interior ministry forces in Madain, namely the Al-Karrar and the Al-Hussein brigades.

In Baghdad, 15 mosques were retaken, but no details on locations.

Amazing what grown ups who have tasted freedom can do huh Democrats? “There already is a civil war in Iraq” was a recent comment left on my blog from a lefty. Wishful thinking I suppose.

Iraq the Model goes into the recent press conference where the embellishment of the violence was strongly rebuked. It seems many in the press have been printing numbers that are much higher then the reality…I’m shocked!

The defense minister in a press conference currently on Iraqi TV gave statistics to correct what he described as “exaggerated media reports” about civilian casualties and attacks on mosques since the attack on the Samarra shrine:

Mosques attacked/shot at without damage: 21 not 51
Moderately damaged: 6 not 23
Mosques destroyed totally: 1 not 3
Mosques occupied by militias: 1 not 2 (evacuated later).
Civilians killed: 119 not 183

Wretcherd at The Belmont Club has an interesting point:

However, if those uniforms are new and Sad’r and the al-Qaeda (mentioned elsewhere in Healing Iraq‘s post) were practically ready to exploit the civil unrest from the start, then one might speculate whether the Golden Mosque attack was not part of a larger plot to spark up a civil war in Iraq.

I have no doubt this was done by an outside group to start a civil war. This will not be their last attempt, but hopefully the Iraqi people now understand that the violence did no good.

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