Monday, March 06, 2006

New Best Friends

If you're an Iraqi Sunni, it's the Americans:

BAGHDAD, Iraq — Two years ago, Riyadh al Adhadh cursed the U.S. soldiers who had overrun his homeland, toppled his Sunni sect from power and tormented prisoners at Abu Ghraib. A member of the City Council, he loudly demanded an American withdrawal.

Last week, his neighborhood under attack by Shiite militiamen, Adhadh found himself huddled over the telephone in panic, begging the U.S. embassy to send American soldiers.

The moment of bitter irony for the father of six captured a sharp shift in Iraqi opinion. Three years after the March 2003 invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein, as the threat of civil war looms, leaders of a nervous Sunni minority have started to drop demands for an immediate U.S. withdrawal.

"We've changed our ideas," said Adhadh, 52. ....

....Shiites stand poised to control Iraq's government and economy. They have consolidated their power over key government ministries, organized gun-toting militias to patrol the streets, and wrangled with Sunnis over power sharing in the government.

...."When the Americans entered Iraq, the Shia helped them a lot, and the Sunnis stood against them," said Alaa Makky, a senior leader in the Iraqi Islamic Party, the main Sunni party. "[But] the Sunnis are now accepting the American political direction. It's not suitable for the Americans to leave. Everything they have arranged during the past three years would be destroyed."

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