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Maliki's dead end plan
by Al-Ahram Weekly (reposted)
Thursday Jul 6th, 2006 10:04 PM
To recognise the Iraqi resistance as legal would undermine the entire misadventure of US military action in Iraq, thus the basis of reconciliation is absent, writes Firas Al-Atraqchi
More often than not, the popular paradigm present in discussions of the Iraqi resistance is a Western construct. It was in the Western media, notably British and US wire services, that Iraqis were first divided into Shia and Sunni and it was there, too, that a concept of terrorism trumped that of resistance and was hammered into the collective psyche of myriad commentators.

This architecture for the understanding and reporting of events in Iraq appeared late 2003 and fell into full swing in 2004. Again and again, reports from Iraq labelled any and all anti-occupation activity as of "insurgent" nature.

In some ways, this has been a coup for Western media, because on the one hand it absolves them of having to do their homework on who or what Iraq's anti-occupation forces are comprised of, what their agendas may be, and who their targets are. On the other hand, this approach also helps to group together all acts of violence under a single, convenient, moniker. For example, "insurgent" is today used to describe militia, resistance, Al-Qaeda, Zarqawi, Badr, Al-Mehdi Army, kidnapping gangs and other criminal activities.

How does this work? Well, first off, if Al-Qaeda mounts an attack against a Shia mosque the media attributes it to "insurgent" action. If anti-occupation forces defending their homes attack a US Humvee, it is also called an "insurgent" action. If a gang of criminals kidnap for ransom, it is also referred to as the work of "insurgents". Pretty soon, the lines blur and the reader assumes there is one big group of militants fighting under the same banner and for the same cause.

by Al-Ahram Weekly (reposted)
Thursday Jul 6th, 2006 10:05 PM
At a time when the Iraqi premiere's national reconciliation plan faces a hard test on the ground, Nuri Al-Maliki is intent on seeking Arab support for it

Of the many items on the agenda of the Iraqi premiere's Arab tour, the national reconciliation plan was at the centre of the discussions Nuri Al-Maliki conducted with the leaders of three Gulf states -- Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Kuwait. At home, however, the plan which Al-Maliki launched one week ago took a back seat with news of ongoing violence and the revelation of the rape and murder of Abeer Qasim at the hands of the United States soldiers who also killed her family. The new most wanted list issued by the Iraqi government -- which included some of Saddam Hussein's family members -- also stole the spotlight.

Al-Maliki's tour is his first trip abroad since taking over as premiere in May. On Saturday, Al-Maliki met Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and Crown Prince Sultan. Al-Maliki's Arab tour was viewed as an attempt by Iraq's top officials to soothe the fears of its gulf neighbours of sectarian tensions spilling over into their land. Al-Maliki took time to assure the Arab leaders of his commitment to reconciling Iraq's Sunnis, Shia and Kurds, and also put much effort into seeking support for his government and plan. "We will revert to being the sons of one country in the full sense of the word," Al-Maliki said.

The reconciliation efforts, nonetheless, were faltering at home as they faced the hard test of the realities on the ground. This week Sunni groups continued to criticise Al-Maliki's conditional offer of amnesty for Iraq's armed resistance groups. Muthana Harith Al-Dhari, spokesperson of the Muslim Scholars Association, described the plan as "no more than a public relations exercise". Al-Dhari added that so many groups were excluded from the amnesty that it became "meaningless".