October 14, 2004


Signs of progress amid turmoil in Iraq (Scott Peterson, 10/15/04, The Christian Science Monitor)

[D]espite continued insecurity, the steady US military pressure against insurgents, coupled with efforts of the Iraqi interim government to negotiate, may be gaining at least some degree of traction.

Among the signs of progress in the conflict:

• Fighters loyal to Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr this week turned over many heavy weapons for cash as part of an agreement to stop fighting, and bring more aid and government control to impoverished Shiite neighborhoods of Baghdad.

• Rocky negotiations had continued in the insurgent stronghold of Fallujah, west of Baghdad, spurred by almost nightly US air raids.

But interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi issued a threat Wednesday of a "major offensive" if the city does not hand over Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the militant leader whose Towhid and Jihad group claims numerous atrocities. The move caused the suspension Thursday of negotiations.

This saber-rattling comes amid reports that weeks of steady US airstrikes are causing a rift between the Iraqi resistance and Mr. Zarqawi's extremist foreign fighters in Fallujah.

Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, the most revered cleric among Iraq's majority Shiite Muslims, called Wednesday for all Shiites to register to vote in elections slated for next January - a qualified endorsement for an event that many analysts say will be crucial to calming Iraq.

"There are some positive signs now, but whether this turns into a good future for Iraq ... depends on the election, and whether broad sectors of society feel represented," says Juan Cole, an Iraq expert at the University of Michigan.

Things are very much as pne would have expected--the futures of Kurdistan and Shi'astan are bright, but the Sunnis haven't decided yet whether they want a future in Iraq or not.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 14, 2004 3:54 PM

Maybe, but you expected -- and predicted -- that Iraq would have faded from the news by August

Posted by: Harry Eagar at October 14, 2004 5:11 PM

I missed by a month.

Posted by: oj at October 14, 2004 6:13 PM