The minister was straightforward in his speech and warned the delegates that if the city doesn't cooperate with the authorities in eliminating terror and criminal gangs, troops will have to enter the city and clean it up in a way similar to what happened in Talafar and the minister said that one month will be given to allow the city to take positive steps before power is used:
Let the decision be yours brothers because if you let others decide for the city, that decision would be tough on you and your people.
Bullets are blind and they can't distinguish between the good and the bad. We don't want to see innocent people get hurt.
You can not close your eyes and pretend it's not your responsibility when you see a terrorist or a suspect, you must cooperate with us if you want peace and stability in your city…
The delegates said they're going to use this chance to protect their city from military operations but there was also a tone of denial in their words; denial to the fact that Samarra hosts terror cells and they tried to show the case look like a conspiracy on their city by "outsiders" yet they didn't say who those outsiders were or where they come from.
However, the minister embarrassed them when he said:
American troops handed security tasks over to Iraqi forces in Najaf and they'll be soon doing the same in other southern cities. Why do you think is that?Without waiting for an answer, he continued:
I tell you why. Those cities are much more stable when compared with cities in the west or north west like Samarra and the young people in the south are joining the security forces in growing numbers, so why don't you and your people do the same? I hereby announce that our doors are open for recruits from Samarra, encourage your young men to join the army to keep your city safe and peaceful.
The government is willing to hear your demands and discuss them to reach a solution for the situation in Samarra, so talk to your people, write down your demands and submit them to the government but keep them reasonable, we can't negotiate demands like those we heard from Ramadi, they wanted us to pull all Iraqi and American troops and let them rebuild units from the old army and that's not acceptable. There's one army in Iraq.
Obviously the massive Iraqi-American operation in Talafar is encouraging other cities to seek peaceful solutions with the government and the first move came from Samarra because of the difference between Samara and other cities in the west; Samarra is a city that depends on trade, tourism and some industry for income unlike Haditha or Qaim which depend mainly on agriculture for economy and Samarra is a bigger city when compared with Qaim or Hadith and remaining under siege for a long time can be devastating for such a city and that'e what the delegate emphasized in their talks with the minister.
Moreover, the type of Islam present in Samarra is relatively moderate and the clerics are not as extreme as those in Anbar and that is expected to give negotiations some flexibility.
This was not the 1st time we see such negotiations and all previous ones failed because the negotiators from Samarra didn't commit to their promises but who knows? Maybe seeing an imminent danger will push them to act wisely from now on.