Some Iraqi Insurgents May Be Set to Disarm
If it materializes, this Radio Free Europe report would be welcomed news:
Al-Samarra’i, a former electricity minister, said on 7 June that the two groups — the Mujahedin Army and Islamic Army of Iraq — are ready to disarm and begin talks with the government.
Al-Samarra’i said he began contacting the groups’ political leaders five months ago. The disclosure appears consistent with comments from a senior Shi’ite legislator, Humam Hammudi, who recently said the government had opened indirect channels of communication with some insurgent groups.
Yahia Said, a researcher on Iraq and other transitional nations at the London School of Economics, says some insurgent groups have long indicated they are ready to negotiate.
“There were groups who were indicating willingness to negotiate for a quite long time now. And these other groups who wanted to distance themselves from all the suicide bombings and attacks on Iraqi civilian targets. That said, I think the operation in the west of the country must have had an impact also on some of these groups who are willing to negotiate,” Said says.
The two groups are believed to represent more than half of the total insurgent forces. The Mujahedin Army has claimed responsibility for scores of attacks, including the April downing of a helicopter carrying 11 civilians, and the kidnapping of Indonesian journalists who were released unharmed in February.
The Islamic Army in Iraq is a significant insurgent group that has claimed responsibility for attacks on U.S. and Iraqi forces as recently as in the last two weeks.
I nonetheless remain unconvinced that meaningful disarmament is as close as RFE suggests, despite apparent progress since the beginning of the year. After all, Muqtada al-Sadr agreed to a truce last June, but it eventually fell apart. Such an outcome appears likely again. Still, it’s good to see Iraqi legislators continuing to take the initiative in talks.