Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Good news from Iraq?

For two days in a row now, the New York Times has run front page stories hopeful about the outcome of the Iraqi elections. The first, on the secular leanings of the main Shiite political parties, sounds pretty promising. The fact that the leader of the prominent Islamic Dawa party is unreservedly stating "there will be no turbans in the government" is cause enough for some optimism.

The second article, on the Sunni political future in Iraq, describes the growing consensus among Sunni Arab leaders that "there is too much at stake... for Sunni groups to reject the political process." Unfortunately, this probably doesn't mean that the anticipated Sunni boycott of the elections will reverse itself in the next five days. What it does mean is that what passes for Sunni leadership today has decided to side with the Iraqi government, rather than the insurgents. Although Iraq's Sunni clerics sound pretty damn rejectionist when talking about the January 30th round of elections, they take a more balanced stance on the business of actually writing the constitution.

"All the Sunnis must take part in drafting the constitution," added Sheik Adhami, who is the imam of Abu Hanifa Mosque, possibly the most anti-American mosque in Baghdad.

And if the elections really do produce a secular-minded Shiite government, there's a good chance it will be sensible enough to take a conciliatory stance toward the Sunni minority in drafting the constitution. It's something to hope for.


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