Al-Maliki offers amnesty to turn tide of offensive
BAGHDAD: Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki offered a general amnesty Wednesday in a rare conciliatory move to undercut support for militants whose offensive has overrun swathes of territory and threatens to tear Iraq apart.
The offer comes after a farcical opening to the new Parliament, despite international leaders urging Iraq’s fractious politicians to unite to help combat insurgents, as the military struggles to seize the initiative on the ground.
International leaders have warned Iraq’s politicians there was no time to waste, while the head of a powerful jihadi group that led the militant advance urged skilled professionals to flock to help its newly proclaimed pan-Islamic state.
Al-Maliki’s surprise move, made in his weekly televised address, appeared to be a bid to split the broad alliance of jihadis, loyalists of executed dictator Saddam Hussein and anti-government tribes that has captured large chunks of five provinces, displacing hundreds of thousands of people.
“I announce the provision of amnesty for all tribes and all people who were involved in actions against the state” but who now “return to their senses,” excluding those involved in killings, Al-Maliki said.
It was not immediately clear how many people the amnesty could affect, but analysts have said some form of political reconciliation will be necessary to convince Sunni Arabs angry with the Shiite-led government to turn against their co-religionists and jihadis.
The vast majority of Iraq’s Sunni Arab minority do not actively support the Islamic State group spearheading the offensive, but analysts say anger over perceived mistreatment by the authorities means they are less likely to cooperate with the security forces.
Meanwhile, a BBC report based on strong evidence said that Iran has supplied Iraq with attack jets.
Russia supplied an initial delivery of the aircraft just a few days ago.
But analysts at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London said that a further delivery, on 1 July, originated from Iran.