Al-Qaida in Iraq denounces Arab League's U.S.-backed Iraqi reconciliation plan

An Internet statement released in the name of al-Qaida in Iraq denounced Arab League plans to stage a reconciliation conference between all Iraq's factions, accusing the pan-Arab body of serving U.S. interests.

The statement, which was posted Tuesday on a Web site known as a clearing house for extremist material, said the "Arab League initiative is a new conspiracy to save their American master under the pretext of national reconciliation, maintaining Iraq's unity and protecting the Sunnis against falling under Iranian influence."

The Arab League plans to hold a reconciliation conference at its Cairo headquarters but a date has not been set. League Secretary-General Amr Moussa is expected to travel to Iraq on Thursday, his first visit since Saddam Hussein's ouster, to try to organize it.

The al-Qaida in Iraq statement, which could not be immediately authenticated, said Moussa was going to Iraq to "convince the Sunnis to enter the political 'game' with the Shiites ... in exchange for stopping the tide of jihad in the Sunni areas."

"The Crusaders have found themselves drowned in a bottomless swamp (and) ... they have found no better allies than the old Arab agents and their League," it added.

The United States has welcomed the Arab League reconciliation initiative and urged Iraq's neighbors to lend diplomatic support to Iraq's people and its government.

Iraq's rampant insurgency draws its strength from the country's once-dominant Sunni minority, whose influence fell after Saddam Hussein was ousted in the 2003 U.S.-led invasion. Iraq's majority Shiites and strong Kurdish population in the north have since claimed political authority in the country, AP reported. V.A.

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