JK: Roublen Vessau is a frequent commenter here at Winds of Change.NET. He sent this to me as a back-channel email. We have a tendency to turn really good emails and comments section entries into Guest Blogs here, so here it is with Roublen's permission.
Wanted: A Few Good Arab Iraqi Sunnis. Who is Iraq's KPS Gill?
by Roublen Vessau
I was reading about the latest car bomb attacks in Iraq, and read with disappointment the spokesman of the Sunni clerics basically shrug his shoulders and say, in essence, "we're not going to lift a finger to try and restrain the insurgency" because "we don't see any hope". What Iraq needs right now are a few really, really good, high-profile Arab Iraqi Sunni leaders who are 1) committed to ending the violence 2) are not viewed as puppets or quislings by the Arab Iraqi Sunni population.
When India was trying to fight separatist Sikh terrorists in Punjab, a Sikh police officer named KPS Gill played a pivotal role in giving the anti-terrorism effort legitimacy among Punjabi Sikhs and among all Indians.
It is probably true to say that only an anti-terrorist effort led by a Sikh could have succeeded in stamping out terrorism in Punjab. If a Hindu had led the fight, India would probably still be fighting separatist insurgents in Punjab.
Making the analogy to Iraq, it seems like the new Iraqi government could use a really good, non-puppet, non-quisling, Arab Iraqi Sunni to be the high-profile leader and figurehead of the anti-terrorist, anti-insurgent movement.
Or to put it more simply: Who can play the role of Iraq's KPS Gill?
More broadly, who are some examples of really good, high-caliber Arab Iraqi Sunni leaders who are committed to doing what's best for Iraq (and for the long-term best interests of Arab Iraqi Sunnis), and who will not be viewed by the Arab Iraqi Sunni population as being puppets or quislings?
Sheikh Yawar does seem to be respected by Sunnis, but he is not playing the role of a KPS Gill, i.e. someone who is directly involved in fighting terrorism. He is instead playing the role of an "honest broker", i.e. someone who is against violence & the insurgency, but maintains semi-neutrality and credibility among anti-occupation Sunnis by occasionally criticizing and protesting some aspects of the occupation.
The need to find anti-insurgency, anti-terrorism Sunnis could also be related to the much-criticized decision of the Shiite leaders to bar ex-Baathists from the government. Barring ex-Baathists is of course understandable, but the new government has to find some strongly anti-terrorist Sunni allies somewhere, among the ex-Baathists or not, if they want to try to avoid a perpetual low-grade civil war, or at least win it as cleanly as possible.
For more on KPS Gill see this archive of his newspaper column, "Freedom From Fear", or this 2002 profile by the BBC.