Each week in Baghdad, sermons to the faithful offer a tale of two Fridays. Both sermons -- one Sunni, the other Shiite -- dwell on the issues that color Baghdad's weary life: the insurgency, elections planned for next month and the U.S. military presence. But the messages are so diametrically opposed as to speak to two realities and two futures for the country.
That's Anthony Shadid in the Washington Post, writing about how "[e]lections are subjugation at the Sunni sermon, liberation at the Shiite one. And at each, the community's patience, the preachers insist, is wearing dangerously thin after yet another provocation or slight."
Also read "A Political Arabesque" by Thomas Friedman in the New York Times, in which he warns: "If there is not enough Sunni participation, the elections, rather than defusing civil strife in Iraq, will increase it, because all the spoils will go to the Shiites and Kurds, and the Sunnis will feel even more excluded." He continues:
For all these reasons, the Bush team should be working with Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf Arab states and even Syria to use all their contacts with Iraqi Sunnis to embolden them to take part in the elections - and to make sure they have bags of money to get out the vote, particularly among the Sunni tribes. It is imperative the Sunnis be brought in, even if some have to be bought.
Of course, not all commentators think that involving the Sunnis is quite that necessary in Iraq, as I'd blogged on earlier ("Chess and ping-pong in Iraq"). Shadid link courtesy Chandrahas.