Wednesday, October 19, 2005

The Sinn Féin franchise

This was probably inevitable, via Wednesday's Irish Times (subs. maybe req'd):

Salah Mutlak likes being called "the Gerry Adams of Iraq". Although he has never met the Sinn Féin leader, Dr Mutlak professes deep admiration. A Sunni Muslim businessman who owes the title "Dr" to agricultural studies at the University of Aberdeen, Mutlak has become the public face of what Sunnis call "the resistance".

"I consider myself the political wing of the resistance, without being it officially," Dr Mutlak said in an interview in his bullet-pocked office, a luxurious villa in the Sunni neighbourhood of Hay Jamiah. Earlier this month the Iraqi National Guard sprayed the building with machinegun fire.

"That means I say what I believe the resistance want and believe, without getting permission from them, without being appointed by them," Dr Mutlak continues. Is he in contact with them? "Sometimes."

Mutlak is leader of the National Dialogue Council which opposed the constitution and wondered, legitimately, why Condi Rice was announcing the referendum result before all the votes had been counted. Anyway, this is not the first time the Sinn Fein/Insurgency idea has cropped up; we noted before when it was attributed to a pseudonymous insurgent. Previous experience has shown that the emergence of a political side to an insurgency is a sign of strength, not weakness. Whatever length of time the White House had for its estimated engagement in Iraq, it should probably lengthen it.

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