With the Sunni insurgency collapsing, Iraq's political map is being redrawn. A new class of Sunni leaders is emerging, willing to act as junior partners to the ascendant Shiasby Nibras Kazimi / August 1, 2007 / Leave a comment
Losing the battle for Baghdad
Iraq’s Sunni political map is undergoing a tectonic shift that is smothering the radicals and empowering those few “moderates,” in the Iraqi sense of the word, who have acquiesced to the historic—and now fully established—political ascendancy of the Shias.
Three Sunni slates made it to the Iraqi parliament in the December 2005 elections: the Consensus Front (44 seats), the National Dialogue Front (11) and the Reconciliation and Liberation bloc (three). Several leading figures in these blocs have now been pushed from the political scene. From the Consensus bloc, Adnan al-Duleimi was voted out of his chairmanship of the parliamentary faction early in June. He spends his time in Amman, along with Khalaf al-Alayan, head of the National Dialogue Front, who stands accused of collusion in a suicide bombing of parliament in April. The chemical imprint of the explosives worn by the parliament bomber matched the explosives stash found in al-Alayan’s home during a recent American raid. Meanwhile, the head of the Reconciliation and Liberation bloc, Mishaan al-Jubouri, lost his parliamentary immunity back in October and in July was sentenced in absentia to 15 years in prison on corruption charges. He is now hiding out in Damascus.
The speaker of parliament, Mahmoud al-Mashhadani, another Consensus figure, was initially put in the top legislative post in the new Iraq as part of the power-sharing arrangement that brought in Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Now Mashhadani is also on his way out, ostensibly for a pattern of crude and brutish behaviour during his one-year tenure. The incident that precipitated his removal was a savage beating administered by his security staff to a fellow MP.
All these names are associated with Sunni hardline rhetoric against the new Shia domination of the government, economy and security services. Naturally, they are crying foul. They see their collapsing fortunes as the direct result of a Shia plot to undermine the Sunni leadership that was voted into power. What’s missing from this picture is that it’s often the hardliners’ own allies and underlings who have plotted their demise. Moderate Sunnis seem to have concluded that their future lies in reconciling themselves to the huge changes that took place when an interim government finally replaced the Saddam Hussein regime, 15 months after the invasion.The new faces on the scene, such as Duleimi’s replacement as head of the Consensus bloc, Ayad al-Samarrae, are content…