Good news in the war with Islamists


The Washington Post brings us two encouraging stories today, one from Iraq, and one from Afghanistan. In Iraq, for the first time ever (apparently), Sunni Iraqis have come to the defense of their Shiite neighbors:

Rising up against insurgent leader Abu Musab Zarqawi, Iraqi Sunni Muslims in Ramadi fought with grenade launchers and automatic weapons Saturday to defend their Shiite neighbors against a bid to drive them from the western city, Sunni leaders and Shiite residents said.

Meanwhile, in Afghanistan, significant numbers of ex—Taliban personnel are accepting an offer of reconciliation, and joining the new regime:

While the extremist militia is mounting an unprecedented wave of attacks, apparently aimed at sabotaging the elections, several hundred former Taliban members have returned from exile in Pakistan to join a government reconciliation program. A handful of well—known Taliban figures have even decided to run for parliament.

Over the last several months, small groups of Taliban fighters have repeatedly battled U.S. and Afghan forces for hours at a time, and they have staged dozens of attacks and bombings that have killed hundreds of civilians —— aid workers, religious leaders, election workers —— as well as Afghan and U.S. troops.

Yet the militia's resurgence comes as a new government reconciliation program, open to all but senior Taliban militants linked to terrorism or war crimes, is yielding unprecedented results. Several hundred former Taliban members have recently streamed back into Afghanistan from Pakistan after formally renouncing violence, according to Afghan and U.S. officials.

"The response has been tremendous," said a senior Afghan official who oversees the program. "So many of them are fed up and want to come home, as long as they are promised they will be treated well."

Ed Lasky   8 14 05