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By Ali Latif
June 12, 2006
Zarqawi’s assassination

There has been a great deal of discussion surrounding the importance of Zarqawi’s killing in the battle against terrorism, but what is potentially more significant is what led to his death. It was a tip-off from Iraqi sources that led to his location and subsequent demise. This may reflect increased trust by Iraq's Sunni community towards the central government and security services, which means that their mass participation in the December elections was not a mere blip but reflective of a change in attitude away from supporting violence towards politics.

What last week’s development highlights is the need for genuine national reconciliation that will allow all citizens of Iraq to feel represented and protected by their government. This confidence in the state will allow Iraqis to provide the intelligence that the security forces and coalition troops need in order to defeat the terrorists inside Iraq. The Prime Minister's release of prisoners last week is a good practical start for the reconciliation process but an extensive and coherent initiative will need to be pursued in order to achieve the results the government and coalition require.

Dealing with the militias

Iraq’s intelligence chief, Major General Mohammed al-Shahwani’s warning against merging militias with the security forces carries certain validity. Thus far attempts at merging the militias have failed to genuinely extricate them from their political masters and there have been serious concerns about their role in the sectarian flare-ups since the Samarra bombing.

There have been two major components missing from previous governments’ policies in dealing with the militias. A will to create the political environment for Iraqi parties to genuinely give up their militias and once this has been achieved, there needed to be a satisfactory framework in place where militia members would be identified, dispersed and monitored within the Iraqi security services that they join. Militia members would lose their previous paymasters and operate in multi-ethnic units, thereby preventing them operating under the official cover that Major Shahwani has fears about.

Iraqi PM’s policy plan

Seizing the moment of both the Zarqawi killing and the completion of the national-unity government, PM al-Maliki presented a detailed and ambitious agenda for Iraq in an Op-Ed for the Washington Post.

 

© 2007 Iraqi Prospect Organisation
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