Another blow in Iraq’s escalating Sunni civil war—and further evidence that any attempt at “reconciliation” will be doomed as long as the US remains in Iraq, allowing the jihadis to pose as the “resistance,” and anyone advocating co-existence to be tarred as collaborators. (Not that these collaborationist sheikhs necessarily do want co-existence with Shi’ites.) Contrary to the depressing conventional wisdom, the first absolutely necessary requisite for a de-escalation in Iraq and isolating the al-Qaeda types is a withdrawal of all occupation troops. From the New York Times, Sept. 25:
Bomber Kills 16 at Iraqi Reconciliation Banquet
BAGHDAD, Sept. 24 — A suicide bomber blew himself up on Monday at a banquet intended to be a reconciliation feast between provincial officials and former Sunni insurgents in Diyala Province, killing 16 people and wounding at least 28.
Among the wounded were the provincial governor, the regional police chief and the local military commander, local police officials said. At least one former insurgent leader was killed, they said.
The gathering was of the type that is a cornerstone of American plans to reconcile former insurgents with the Iraqi government and enlist their help in fighting Sunni extremist groups. The strategy has produced security gains in Sunni areas in western Iraq, and the military is trying to repeat that success in places like Diyala, a mixed area of Sunnis and Shiites north of Baghdad.
The American military confirmed that American officers had attended the meeting, held at a Shiite mosque in an outlying district of Baquba, the provincial capital. It said soldiers had been attacked by a suicide bomber, but said nothing about any wounded or dead among the Americans.
“There are an unknown number of casualties, and the incident remains under investigation,” the military statement said.