BAGHDAD, Iraq - A day after Saddam Hussein was
sentenced to hang, the Shiite-dominated government offered a major concession
Monday to his Sunni backers that could see thousands of members of the ousted
dictator's Baath party reinstated in their jobs.
With a tight curfew holding
down violence after Saddam's guilty verdict and death sentence, the government
reached out to disaffected Sunnis in hopes of enticing them away from the
insurgency, which has killed tens of thousands of Iraqis and is responsible for
the vast majority of US casualties.
A man holds up a framed image of deposed Iraqi leader Saddam
Hussein as they protest his death sentence for crimes against humanity, in
Fallujah, 65 kilometers (40 miles) west of Baghdad, Iraq, Monday Nov. 6,
The US military announced the deaths of five more American troops, two in a
helicopter crash north of Baghdad and three in fighting west of the capital. The
deaths raised to 18 the number of US forces killed in the first six days of
Relentless sectarian killings also persisted despite the extraordinary
security precautions. Fifty-nine bodies were discovered Sunday and Monday across
Iraq, police said. But with no surge in violence, authorities were gradually
lifting the restrictions in Baghdad and two restive Sunni provinces: Pedestrians
were allowed back on the capital's streets late Monday afternoon, and the
international airport was to reopen Tuesday morning.
Around the country, jubilant Shiites celebrated the verdict while Sunnis held
Iraq's appeals court is expected to rule on an appeal by Saddam's lawyers by
the middle of January, the chief prosecutor said Monday, setting in motion a
possible execution by mid-February. If the ruling is upheld, The Associated
Press has learned that Iraq's three-man presidential council is pledged to allow
Saddam's hanging to take place. The execution must be carried out within 30 days
of the appeals court's decision.
Sunday's verdict and Monday's opening to the Sunnis were seen as a welcome
break for the United States, which had recently called for the Iraqi government
to stop purging members of Saddam's Baath party from their jobs. Prime Minister
Nouri al-Maliki, however, has balked at US requests to set up an amnesty for
Al-Maliki has been engaged in a public feud with US Ambassador Zalmay
Khalilzad since last month, when the prime minister disputed the envoy's
announcement that he had agreed to a timeline for progress in quelling violence
and encouraging Sunnis to join the political process.
On Monday, there were indications Khalilzad was preparing to leave his post.