Tide turning in Iraq?

While the media fails to take notice of how the military effort in Iraq has moved steadily westward, with little violence in the Kurdish-held north and Shiite south, we have an interesting development that has been surfacing in the media:

Iraqi nationalist rebels in the Sunni Arab city of Ramadi have turned against their former al Qaeda allies after a bomb attack this month killed 80 people ... three local Islamist groups around Ramadi met to distance themselves from their fellow Islamists in Qaeda, joining the shift against al Qaeda led by more secular, tribal and nationalist groups ... U.S. Major General Rick Lynch said in Baghdad last week: "We are seeing examples of Iraqi rejectionists (nationalists) taking up arms and informing on terrorists and foreign fighters. "We are seeing this in Ramadi."

This follows other recent reports of infighting between imported Qaeda terrorists and Sunni militants who when faced with a choice between fighting U.S. forces who are committed to staying the course, and political involvement, have chosed the high road and sought to participate in negotiations with the government and support for the electoral process.

Seeing the group most supportive of the former regime and least friendly to cooperation with the new government deciding to come to the bargaining table isn't just an encouraging sign for those hoping for a drawdown of U.S. forces, but more importantly, the involvement of the full range of groups in Iraq will signal major progress towards to establishment of a rare Islamic democracy.

No doubt this will be a troubling development for places like Syria, Saudi Arabia and other Islamic nations where alliances of political strongment and religious leaders have heretofore been able to resist reformist efforts to introduce democratic reforms. When a nation like Iraq becomes a democratic nation, it will make it a lot harder to disparage democracy as just another aspect of "corrupt and decadent" Western society.

Stay tuned ...

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