Insurgents offer to halt attacks in Iraq
Updated: 2006-06-29 21:12
Eleven Sunni insurgent groups have offered an immediate halt to all attacks
-- including those on American troops -- if the United States agrees to withdraw
foreign forces from Iraq in two years, insurgent and government officials told
The Associated Press on Wednesday.
Withdrawal is the centerpiece of a set of demands from the groups, which
operate north of Baghdad in the heavily Sunni Arab provinces of Salahuddin and
Diyala. Although much of the fighting has been to the west, those provinces are
increasingly violent and attacks there have crippled oil and commerce routes.
The groups who've made contact have largely shunned attacks on Iraqi
civilians, focusing instead on the U.S.-led coalition forces. Their offer
coincides with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's decision to reach out to the
Sunni insurgency with a reconciliation plan that includes an amnesty for
The Islamic Army in Iraq, Muhammad Army and the Mujahedeen Shura Council --
the umbrella group that covers eight militant groups including al-Qaida in Iraq
-- were not party to any offers to the government.
Naseer al-Ani, a Sunni Arab politician and official with the largest Sunni
political group, the Iraqi Islamic Party, said that al-Maliki should encourage
the process by guaranteeing security for those making the offer and not
immediately reject their demands.
"The government should prove its goodwill and not establish red lines,"
al-Ani said. "If the initiative is implemented in a good way, 70 percent of the
insurgent groups will respond positively."
Al-Maliki, in televised remarks Wednesday, did not issue an outright
rejection of the timetable demand. But he said it was unrealistic, because he
could not be certain when the Iraqi army and police would be strong enough to
make a foreign presence unnecessary for Iraq's security.