Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, the leader of the Ba’ath Party wants to start cooperating with the Iraqi Government and he rejects Al-Qaeda.

The Ba’ath Party has fragmented over the past 4 years. Recently, a growing number of former Ba’athists, particularly those in the 1920 Revolutionary Brigades and the Sunni Tribes, and to a lesser extent, the Islamic Army of Iraq, have begun cooperating with the Coalition and Iraqi Government.

The nationalists made up the vast bulk of the insurgency, providing the most capable and best trained leaders and fighters, and the lion’s share of the money. They’ve turned against Al-Qaeda and realize that the Sunnis cannot win the war.

This comes at a time when the UN, Arab states, and France are recognizing the Iraqi government and are opening relations. International pressure is increasing on Syria to cut off ties with the insurgencies.

Notably, the Iraqi government issued a number of arrest warrents for former members of Saddam’s regime, including Saddam’s daughter. These exiles were providing finances, arms, and leadership for the Iraqi nationalist insurgency. Some, including al-Douri decided to work with al-Qaeda and radical Islamists.

This is a bit tentative at the moment. At the very least, most former Ba’athists have choosen to cooperate. If al-Douri is also giving in, then the insurgency is a lost cause.

The leader of Iraq’s banned Baath party, Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, has decided to join efforts by the Iraqi authorities to fight al-Qaeda, one of the party’s former top officials, Abu Wisam al-Jashaami, told pan-Arab daily Al Hayat.

“AlDouri has decided to sever ties with al-Qaeda and sign up to the programme of the national resistance, which includes routing Islamist terrorists and opening up dialogue with the Baghdad government and foreign forces,” al-Jashaami said.

Al-Douri has decided to deal directly with US forces in Iraq, according to al-Jashaami. He figures in the 55-card deck of “most wanted” officials from the former Iraqi regime issued by the US government.

In return, for cooperating in the fight against al-Qaeda, al-Douri has asked for guarantees over his men’s safety and for an end to Iraqi army attacks on his militias.

Recent weeks have seen a first step in this direction, when Baathist fighters cooperated with Iraqi government forces in hunting down al-Qaeda operatives in the volatile Diyala province and in several districts of the capital, Baghadad.

Basically, the Ba’athists are offering to lay down their arms in return for amnesty. Many low-ranking members already have de-facto amnesty and are joining local police forces and neighborhood watches as part of the Awakening movement.

The higher ranking members are deeply concerned about reprisal attacks. In the past, they decided to keep fighting, otherwise the Shia would execute them all. Now? Most of their followers are quitting. So now would be the best time to offer to cooperate while it still looks genuine.

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