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Some Sunnis want to join political process

Associated Press

BAGHDAD, Iraq – Some insurgent groups have agreed on the need to join Iraq’s political process, a government spokesman said Sunday, calling on them to lay down their guns.

Laith Kuba, a spokesman for Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, said some insurgent groups feel they no longer need to carry out their “resistance” after the Jan. 30 national elections and the transfer of sovereignty a year ago from U.S.-led coalition authorities to an Iraqi government.

“Of course, before the elections, there were certain groups that used to say that Iraq is under occupation and they have a right to resist,” Kuba said at a news conference.

“But now, I believe, this situation no longer exists, and many groups are agreeing on the concept to take part in the political process,” he said. “So, now is the right time for any group to lay down its weapons and take part in the process.”

Kuba was referring to Iraqi groups opposed to the continued presence of U.S.-led forces in the country but not to foreign extremists such as Jordanian-born Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, head of the feared al Qaeda in Iraq group, and his Iraqi allies. The words “resistance” and “national resistance” often are applied to groups that carry out attacks only against U.S. forces.

“Groups who have carried out random killings and explosions will never enter into negotiations with the Iraqi government,” Kuba said. “These are criminals and murderers who can’t stop. They only want to kill.”

Kuba’s comments came days after the disclosure that U.S. officials are negotiating with Sunni Arab leaders to pull insurgents into Iraq’s political process and recent announcements by influential Sunni and Shiite Muslim leaders that they have held similar discussions with insurgent groups.

More than 12,000 Iraqi civilians have been killed during the past 18 months, according to Interior Ministry figures. More than 930 people, including U.S. military personnel, have died since the April 28 announcement of the Shiite-led government.

The bulk of Iraq’s insurgents are believed to be homegrown fighters, predominantly loyalists of ousted dictator Saddam Hussein or soldiers from Iraq’s disbanded Saddam-era army. Foreign Sunni Arab extremists such as al-Zarqawi are believed responsible for the bulk of the country’s suicide bombings and are opposed to the presence of U.S. forces in the region and the assumption of power by a Shiite-dominated government.

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