BAGHDAD, Iraq - Sunni insurgents who are "honorable and genuine" must be given the chance to join the political process, Iraq's Sunni vice president said in an interview published Friday.
Tariq al-Hashemi told the Arabic language daily Al-Hayat that U.S. and Iraqi representatives must negotiate "with the participation of the resistance" after "America has failed to run the country."
Furthermore, al-Hashemi said "the honorable national resistance" must adopt "a new ideology to manage the crisis." [How about stopping the people who plant bombs at universities and markets in Baghdad? That might actually put an end to the crisis. ]
Al-Hashemi, leader of the Sunni Iraqi Islamic Party, has in recent months criticized Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki over his alleged reluctance to move against Shiite militias linked to sectarian killings.
Shiite leaders have recoiled at the use of the word "resistance" to describe Sunni insurgents - especially those who attack U.S. and coalition troops rather than Iraqi civilians.
Shiite politicians, including al-Maliki, refer to Sunni insurgents as "terrorists," "Saddamists" or "Takfiris" - religious extremists who consider Shiites to be infidels.
"The honorable and genuine resistance has paid a price to safeguard the dignity of Iraq and its unity [all I got to say about that is WOW] through three years and must be given an appropriate chance to participate in the political process," al-Hashemi told Al-Hayat.
He also criticized the militant Sunni Association of Muslim Scholars [a good start], accusing it of meddling in politics and rejecting the notion it represents Iraq's Sunni Arabs. Many Association figures are believed closely linked to insurgents.
His criticism drew a sharp response from the association's spokesman, Sheik Mohammed Bashar al-Fayadh, who told Al-Arabiyah television that al-Hashemi's comments amounted to an attempt to separate religion from politics. "This is a secularist ideology, not Islamic," he said [he admits to the stupidity of the association he speaks for].
The vice president accused al-Maliki of squandering the opportunity early in his administration to deal with the Shiite militias [it would have been good if Sunni insurgents had not attacked and mass murdered innocent Shia and Iraqi security forces before Maliki arrived on the scene]. The U.S. has been pressing al-Maliki to crack down on Shiite gunmen, especially the Mahdi Army of his political ally, Muqtada al-Sadr.
Al-Hashemi said that recently, the prime minister "realized the danger to the law posed by the militias, but his move against them is late again." [When an Iraqi Sunni Arab politician is speaking to the Sunni Arab world, he must express his dissatisfaction with the Iraqi government.]
He said al-Sadr's militia had hidden their weapons and their key leaders slipped out of Iraq to avoid the recently launched crackdown in Baghdad.
U.S. and Iraqi officials have said al-Sadr recently went to Iran, although the cleric's aides deny he has left the country.