Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Iraqi Forms Political Front for Insurgents

BAGHDAD, Iraq - A Sunni Arab politician who brokered secret talks between American officials and insurgents said Wednesday he has formed a group to give political voice to Iraqi fighters, and demanded a timetable for U.S. troop withdrawal.

The announcement marked the most serious effort to date to draw disenfranchised Sunnis into the political process. Former Cabinet member Ayham al-Samarie, a dual Iraq-U.S. citizen, is thought to have strong tribal links throughout the Sunni triangle, where the Sunni branch of the insurgency is concentrated.

Al-Samarie's announcement follows confirmation from American officials including Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld that the U.S. has negotiated with insurgents.

Sunnis are thought to make up the backbone of an insurgency that has killed about 1,370 people — mostly civilians and Iraqi forces — since Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari announced his Shiite-led government April 28.

Ayham al-Samarie speaks at a press conference, in Baghdad, Iraq Wednesday June 29, 2005. Al-Samarie, a dual Iraq-U.S. citizen and former electricity minister of Iraq, announced the creation of the National Council for Unity and Construction of Iraq, a political front to represent the demands of an umbrella group of insurgents demanding a timetable for U.S. troop withdrawal and an end to all military offensives in Iraqi cities.

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