Tuesday, February 15, 2005

It hadn't occurred to me when I saw this earlier today but reading it again at The Command Post, I think this is good news in not two but three respects.

The first two are obvious and mentioned in the story. The Sunnis leadership, themselves have admitted the first -- their boycott was a mistake and they now will join the Iraqi political process. Apparently they are not so dim that they have seen their stance was both a public relations and a political gamesmanship failure. The other good news, and it seems a reasonable speculation, this reversing of course is a big blow to the insurgency.

But it is good news in a third respect, speculation on my part but just as reasonable it seems, is that the combination of the boycott move and the subsequent admittance it was a mistake may put a big dent in the 'Sunni Clerics as Leaders' bus as far as the average Sunni Mohammed Q. Public is concerned. In the shortness of two weeks, Sunnis have gone from being told to be arrogant in their dismissal of the elections - it is a fraud, an US conspiracy, a deepening of the Occupation - to being told, "Sorry, never mind. Just a slight political miscalculation, brethren. Don't worry, we will go begging to get some political power now."

I'm no Iraq expert, but I know about people and people don't often follow leaders off a cliff more than a couple of times before they start looking for new leaders to follow. I expect Sunni Clerical Leadership has taken a big hit. It certainly will not make its appearance as a sea change but, again, that will depend on how fleet of foot the Sunni leadership is in the quick pace of political processes to come and if future decisions are as brutally mistaken as the boycott was. But it will certainly come as in dribs and drabs as the Mohammed Q. Publics see that the plays called by their leaders suck big time. There may come a time when Sunni Clerical leaders are preaching, figuratively, in the desert.

And here's some food for thought. This might be a good time for the Iraqi Government to promote the growth of private polling organizations in Iraq. This will help in many ways, the least being the sounding out of Sunni public opinion. Public opinion polls are the death knell for flip-flopping shepherds who consistently lead their flock towards irrelevancy. Opinion polls couldn't happen to a nicer bunch of fellers than the current crop in Al-Anbar.

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