For the first time, one of Iraq’s principal insurgent groups has set out the terms of a ceasefire that would allow American and British forces to leave the country they invaded almost four years ago.

The present terms would be impossible for any US administration to meet – (and)…it clearly represents only the views of Sunni Muslim fighters. Shia militias are nowhere mentioned. The demands include the cancellation of the entire Iraqi constitution – almost certainly because the document, in effect, awards oil-bearing areas of Iraq to Shia and Kurds, but not to the minority Sunni community. Yet the Sunnis remain Washington’s principal enemies in the Iraqi war.

There will, the group says, be no negotiations with Mr Maliki’s government because they consider it “complicit in the slaughter of Iraqis by militias, the security apparatus and death squads”. But they do call for the unity of Iraq and say they “do not recognise the divisions among the Iraqi people”.

What is unclear, of course, is the degree to which al-Jeelani’s statement represents the collective ideas of the Sunni insurgents. And, ominously, no mention is made of al-Qa’ida.


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