Iraqi PM urges reconciliation with Saddam regime collaborators

Al-Maliki's comments come as he works toward creating tribal councils to advise local governments.

Nouri al-Maliki 248.88 (photo credit: AP)
Nouri al-Maliki 248.88
(photo credit: AP)
Iraq's prime minister on Friday called for Iraqis to forgive and reconcile with those who collaborated with the former Sunni-dominated regime of Saddam Hussein. "We have to reconcile between each others as Iraqis," Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said during a speech at a reconciliation conference in Baghdad with Bani Wail, an Iraqi Shi'ite tribe. Al-Maliki's comments come as he works toward creating tribal councils to advise local governments. The creation of the councils has been met with fierce opposition by members of major political parties, a move they say is aimed at bolstering the Shi'ite leader's stature ahead of elections next year. It also has complicated US-backed efforts at political reconciliation. Mainstream Sunni political groups widely participated in January's provincial elections in which al-Maliki and his Shi'ite allies won big - and, more importantly, did not challenge the results. Yet it's still a fragile rapport in Iraq after years of bitter Shi'ite-Sunni sectarian clashes that pushed the country close to civil war. Many Shi'ites suffered under Saddam and resent moves toward reconciliation. Many Sunnis remain distrustful of the Shi'ite-dominated government. "These conferences were something strange for us before," al-Maliki said, speaking of the gatherings such as the one in Baghdad Friday. "But they have had fruitful outcomes." He called the conferences the corner stone of rebuilding the country and its laws, adding that tribal councils will help partner tribes with the Iraqi government. "It is not fanaticism to see someone supportive of his tribe. Rather the fanaticism arises when someone prefers the wrong acts of his tribe to the righteous acts of others," al-Maliki said. He said if Iraqis put up a united front, this would deter insurgents and other criminals, including those who come to Iraq from abroad. Violence in Iraq has dropped dramatically in the past 18 months, though Iraq's security forces are attacked almost every day. On Friday, a roadside bomb exploded near a police checkpoint in Mishahda, 20 miles north of Baghdad, killing two policemen and wounding three others, said an Iraqi police official. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release the information. In northern Iraq, a roadside bomb exploded in Tikrit, killing two people in a car, another police official said. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity for the same reason, said it was unclear whether the car was targeted by the bomb or whether it was transporting the bomb.