Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Iraq Government holds talks with former army officers

Douri Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, Saddam Hussein's former second in command and now a fugitive with a $10 million bounty on his head, called in November for Sunni former officers to lay down their arms. This directly followed a month with numerous reports of U.S. negotiations with Sunni insurgents.

The Iraqi Government hosted a meeting of former army officers yesterday as it intensified its campaign to woo the country’s Sunni population away from deadly insurgent groups.

Nouri al-Maliki, the Prime Minister, said that the meeting was part of a drive for national reconciliation. It came a day after President Ahmadinejad of Iran, the most radical Shia country, visited King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, the most influential Sunni-led kingdom, to discuss how to cool the sectarian tensions that threaten to overwhelm the region.

The former army officers are a vital link in drawing the Iraqi communities together. The conference discussed raising the meagre pensions given to former generals and colonels as well as bringing many of them back to the military almost four years after the US-led occupation dissolved the old army – a move widely seen as having given birth to the lethal insurgency.

Read the rest at the Times of London

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