Is there a specifically Sunni word for “peace offering”? Because if there is, I suspect that’s what the release of Christian Science Monitor reporter Jill Carroll might well be.
Others theorize that her release might have to do with the successful rescue last week of the Christian peace activist trio, but that doesn’t work so well for me. Those
ingrates worthies were being held for ransom, which is a sadly all-too-common tactic these days among the more lawless set in the Land Between Two Rivers. Criminal kidnap gangs are rampant in the capital, and there’s no good reason to believe that one group of thugs would be intimidated by another group’s failure to hold on to their purses.
The release conditions set by Carroll’s captors on the other hand had much more to do with ideological nationalism and Sunni notions of “honor.” Keeping her captive, absent an American willingness to negotiate terms, was a liability: Her kidnapping was rather too closely tied into a missed interview at Sunni politician, and Iraqi Islamic Party member Adnan Dulaimi’s office. Her release today – curiously enough at the offices of that same Iraqi Islamic Party in a western Baghdad neighborhood – ended nearly three months of captivity. Carroll notes that she was treated “very well” and that it was “important people knew that.”
The translator who was with her when she was kidnapped could not be reached for comment.
No, if anything led to her release, I suspect it is the growing realization among the minority Sunni nationalist faction – in a background of increased tit-for-tat sectarian violence following last month’s Golden Mosque bombing – that goading the majority Shia into civil war is probably a non-winning strategy. They probably also now recognize, distasteful as it must seem, that the US military is all that stands between themselves and an increasingly agitated coalition of bloody-minded Shia militias. Finally, if you’re looking for recent news to inspire Carroll’s release, I’d look instead to the most recent raid by Iraqi Army-led, US-supported forces on one of Moqtada Sadr’s Mahdi militia headquarters. This raid, despite the carefully crafted howls of indignation from all the usual suspects, demonstrated that the Iraqi Army at least, as well as their US support elements, can be trusted to hew to a non-sectarian line. That they are, in other words, someone you can do business with, if you want to live. Hence the olive branch.
I hope they haven’t waited too long to come to these realizations.