Sunni Arab-oriented insurgent groups opposed the January elections that chose an interim parliament and, as a result, found their constituencies and views were not represented during the writing of the new Iraqi constitution. Although they continue to resist the new Iraqi regime, there is evidence that some of these insurgent groups have declared a "cease fire" for the December 15th parliamentary elections. As many "accomadationist" Sunni leaders have already endorsed participation in the election, this may insure a strong Sunni turn out, which would be good for the ultimate development of a reasonably representative government in the country.
Two armed anti-government groups are known to have called for a cease fire during the elections. These include Jaysh Al Mujahidin, which is also rumored to be engaged in quiet talks with representatives of the Iraqi government, and the "1920 Revolutionary Brigade." The cease fire may also be motivated by other factors, in addition to the desire to seek some degree of power and influence in the new government. Reportedly leaders of several Sunni and Baathist resistance groups have been threatened, and possibly even attacked, by Al-Qaeda in Iraq for not toeing an ultra-religious line. Al Qaeda considers democracy and voting "un-Islamic." But al Qaeda is not only the most hated organization in Iraq, but also banged up pretty badly after months of attacks by American and Iraqi troops. As the number, and quality, of Iraqi security forces grows, the effectiveness of the investigations and raids against al Qaeda become more effective.
Al Qaeda, and the fanatical leader of "Al Qaeda in Iraq", Jordanian Abu Musab al Zarqawi, have slaughtered thousands of Iraqis in over a hundred spectacular suicide bombings. Zarqawi had to depend on foreigners for most of these attacks, as Iraqis are reluctant to kill other Iraqis like this, particularly since women and children tend to be among the victims. What really hurt Zarqawi was several attacks that killed large numbers of children. This is a no-no, even among bloody minded Iraqis. The improved counter-terror efforts, including those along the Syrian, Jordanian and Saudi borders, has cut down on the number of foreign volunteers for al Qaeda. Moreover, the word has gotten out that al Qaeda in Iraq is not popular with Iraqis, and subject to constant attack by American troops and Iraqi police. Many potential foreign terrorist volunteers are staying away. So Zarqawi is now recruiting mostly Iraqis, and not having much success at that. One of the major losers in the December 15th elections will be al Qaeda, as many pro-terror Iraqis switch to less violent methods. This has led to violence between al Qaeda and Sunni Arab groups that were formerly supporters of Islamic terrorism.
The December 15th elections will select 275 members of the parliament (Council of Representatives). This legislature will meet in mid-January, and after about a month are expected to have selected a Presidential Council (President and two Deputy Presidents). Sometime in early of March, the Presidential Council will select a new Prime Minister, who is expected to select his cabinet by the end of the month, subject to approval by the Council of Representatives. All of this will be accompanied by horse trading between the major political factions (religious and secular Shia Arabs, religious and secular Sunni Arabs, Kurds and nationalist Iraqis. The religious Shia Arabs are expected to be the largest faction. Just how large, remains to be seen.