Saturday, December 11, 2004

NPR: Major Alliance Emerges in Iraq

This is a big deal.

The alliance includes Iraq's largest Shi'ite parties, a prominent Sunni tribe, and smaller non-Shi'ite groups. It has the blessing of the country's number one Shi'ite leader, Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani. The alliance could dominate Iraq's national election in January and become Iraq's pre-eminent political force.

. . Both of the two largest Shi'ite political parties are in, the Dawa party and the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution of Iraq. These were exiled parties during the Saddam Hussein years based in Iran . . . there are also Sunni groups which were especially courted to broaden the appeal of the alliance beyond the Shi'ite community. Sheik Fawaz Jarbah is probably the most influential Sunni to join. He is the head of the Shamar tribe, one of the largest tribal groups here, representing many Sunnis and some Shia who live in the north of the country around the city of Mosul. The Iraqi insurgency is made up largely of Sunni Arabs and some formal Sunni groups . . . have announced they will boycott the election. But Sheik Jarbah expressed the belief that such a boycott will not be effective:"God willing, we hope that they vote in this election, and honestly, that good security conditions are provided, and if it is possible for most of the people, Sunnis and non-Sunnis to participate, the Iraqi people hope from this election to form a national government that could accomplish achievements for the nation."

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