From:     Al-Hayat

February 23, 2005

Translated by Gilbert Achcar

  <>A member of the Association of Muslim Scholars [believed to be the most popular group among Arab Sunnis in Iraq] has denied that the contacts held by the American delegation wiith armed groups involved the Association.
He declared to Al-Hayat that the practice of equating the "armed resistance" with the Sunnis is "a big mistake, and the contacts do not take place with Sunni groups but with high leaders of the dissolved Baath Party."
He added that the Association is not concerned by these contacts, because it is "a Sunni religious authority opposed to the occupation through peaceful means, and even though it considers the resistance to be a legitimate right of every Iraqi, it rejects terrorism and the killing of innocents."
He revealed that the contacts engaged with the Association in order to integrate it in the new government centered only around the procedure of writing the constitution, and were held with Iraqi political forces and with Ashraf Qadi, the representative of the UN General Secretary, and not with the Bush administration.
He added that "these meetings will remain useless if the Americans keep betraying their promises, like carrying on the military operations and arrests."
"The US administration, which is the occupying force, should have controlled the borders with the neighbouring countries that allow the infiltration of terrorist groups, and made a distinction [in their contacts] between the legitimate resistance and terrorism, unless they are the first beneficiaries of the instability of security conditions to guarantee that they will stay as long as possible."