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Iraq's insurgents ‘seek exit strategy'
By Steve Negus in Baghdad
Published: March 25 2005 16:55 | Last updated: March 25 2005 16:55
Iraq flagMany of Iraq's predominantly Sunni Arab insurgents would lay down their arms and join the political process in exchange for guarantees of their safety and that of their co-religionists, according to a prominent Sunni politician.
Sharif Ali Bin al-Hussein, who heads Iraq's main monarchist movement and is in contact with guerrilla leaders, said many insurgents including former officials of the ruling Ba'ath party, army officers, and Islamists have been searching for a way to end their campaign against US troops and Iraqi government forces since the January 30 election.
“Firstly, they want to ensure their own security,” says Sharif Ali, who last week hosted a pan-Sunni conference attended by tribal sheikhs and other local leaders speaking on behalf of the insurgents.
Insurgent leaders fear coming out into the open to talk for fear of being targeted by US military or Iraqi security forces' raids, he said.
Sharif Ali distinguishes many Sunni insurgents, whom he says took up arms in reaction to the invasive raids in search of Ba'athist leaders and other “humiliations” soon after the 2003 war, from the radical jihadist branch associated with Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
Unlike Mr Zarqawi's followers, who are thought to be responsible for the big suicide bomb attacks on Iraqi civilian targets, the other Sunni insurgents are more likely to plant bombs and carry out ambushes against security forces and US troops active near their homes.
Sharif Ali said the success of Iraq's elections dealt the insurgents a demoralising blow, prompting them to consider the need to enter the political process.