Saturday, November 26, 2005

Negotiating With Terrorist

Juan Cole writes that Arab news sources are reporting that the U.S. has been negotiating with the Iraq insurgents:
Al-Hayat says that [Arabic URL] informed sources maintained to it that the intelligence services of the Arab states, of Iraq, of the guerrilla movement in Iraq, and of the US, conducted discussions on the sidelines of the National Reconciliation Conference for Iraq held recently in Cairo, on how to isolate Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and his radical Salafi (fundamentalist Sunni) faction in Iraq.

Iraqi guerrilla groups such as "The Islamic Army," "The Bloc of Holy Warriors," and "The Revolution of 1920 Brigades" conveyed their conditions behind the scenes. (Despite the Islamist names of these groups, they are probably mostly neo-Baathist.) Among their demands are 1) working to end the foreign occupation, 2) compensation to the Iraqis for the damages arising from the American invasion; 3) the release of prisoners; and 4) building political and military institutions that are not subservient to American and regional influence.

These guerrilla groups said they would never turn al-Zarqawi over to the Americans even if Washington promised to leave Iraq completely. They might, however, turn him over to a legitimate Iraqi government if the Americans were no longer there.
Ok. So the U.S. doesn't negotiate with terrorists.

But we are.

The U.S. removed the Baathists from power.

But now we're negotiating with them?

The Iraqi government's involvment in these negotiations, including the statement legitimizing insurgent attacks on Americans, is likely an attempt to win in the elections. But does anyone really believe that the Baathists have, as a goal, anything short of a return to power?

In the crazy world that's Iraq, this makes perfect sense. The U.S. does not want an Islamic theocracy in Iraq. Having Baathists back in power sans Saddam would not be all bad from Bush's point of view.

The only problem is that pesky Shiite majority. They may have something to say about the whole thing.


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