What do the Baathist Sunnis stand for?

Steven Vincent on the Muslim Scholars Association noting that while many Sunnis will boycott the elections, they want to be part of the drafting of the Iraqi constitution:

And there you have it, coming on the heels of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi’s declaration of “fierce war” against democracy: the beginnings of an open split between the leaders of the Iraqi paramilitaries and the foreign jihadists. The first have suddenly awoke to the fact that the Shia-Kurdish Democracy Train is indeed leaving the station and that Sunnis will have to get on board at a later stop; the second want to destroy the engine, tracks and passengers just as surely as their allies slaughtered hundreds in the stations of Madrid. Both wings of Islamofascism realize they face a more potent threat than even the U.S. military: a democratic constitution. And one side is buckling.


Would the Viet Cong have so readily abandoned their struggle and leaped into constitutional talks with the Saigon regime? Would the FLN have stopped fighting the French colonialists and entered into a power-sharing agreement? Never–because their objectives were fundamentally at odds with their enemies’. But what do the Sunni “insurgents” stand for? What is their economic policy, their education plan, their vision for the future? What do they propose to replace the American-led liberation of their country? I was in Ramadi, Falluja, Tikrit; I asked people these questions. Their answer? “Saddam.”

By this time, Saddam was in custody, awaiting the war crimes tribunal that will most condemn him to death. The inhabitants of the Sunni Triangle knew this full well: for them “Saddam” was not a man, but a symbol of the patronage machine that rewarded their families, tribes and clans with jobs, money, prestige–even irrigation water from the Euphrates River.

There’s a lot more to it than that, of course. You really should go read the whole thing.

(And, yes, I’ve finished IN THE RED ZONE. Review coming soon.)