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Did I miss something, or is Bush now making deals with terrorists?

From the Moonie, I mean Washington Times:

WORLD BRIEFINGS
By Paul Martin
December 21, 2005 BAGHDAD

    American diplomats called it "mission impossible" -- to bend the rules on contact with powerful anti-American Sunni forces in Iraq and negotiate a cease-fire -- all before last week's elections.

    Their orders came from U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad. The effort took months and culminated in a day of voting in which Sunni Arabs came out in droves after having boycotted the first parliamentary election a year ago.

    The cease-fire period started Dec. 13 and ended Sunday, spanning Thursday's elections. The period passed with no major attacks on Iraqi civilians.

    The effort by U.S. diplomats and military officials also redefined U.S. policy in Iraq -- a potentially seismic shift that President Bush spelled out this month in four major policy speeches that referred to three types of insurgents: "rejectionists," "Saddamists" and terrorists.

More below the fold

What was that he said about undermining our credibility? What about 30 years of not negotiating with terrorists? Is Bush this desperate to get out of Iraq?
Washington seeks truce

    U.S. officials continue to talk with the "rejectionists," a category that appears to include the bulk of those who have taken up arms to battle American and Iraqi forces.

    Now that the elections have passed, the United States is continuing the effort, seeking a long-term cease-fire that would drive a wedge between Iraqi Sunnis and terrorist forces, such as those led by Abu Musab Zarqawi and his al Qaeda in Iraq. The terrorist organization seeks to impose a primitive, Taliban-like regime on Iraq and use Iraq as a base from which to topple governments throughout the Middle East and larger Muslim world.-snip-

    "They went something like this," the official said. "We'll stop raiding houses searching for suspects, or we'll remove our checkpoints from certain places, provided you guarantee there will be no shootings or bombings on a certain road or geographic area."

    Later, negotiators worked on a wider form of cease-fire, culminating on Oct. 28 in a "big tent" meeting at an undisclosed location, bringing together American and British diplomats and U.S. Army personnel with tribal, political, religious and insurgent figures. -snip-

 The new rules were: "We will not talk to terrorists with blood on their hands." It is a formula that allowed talks with all except those whom U.S. intelligence fingered as killers or who gave orders to kill.

    "It was a very, very liberal interpretation," the U.S. official said. By a process of definitions, years of refusal to talk to insurgents were reversed.

Here are a few more details:

Gen. George Casey, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, ordered an end of "aggressive operations" effective Dec. 13. –snip-

The process nearly unraveled late in the negotiations when a U.S. Army unit, apparently unaware of a looming deal, launched raids on homes of suspected insurgents inside Fallujah.

"We had to scramble to explain it was just a mess-up," the official said. "But from their perspective, where everything is seen as a conspiracy, we had done it on purpose. "Eventually, they accepted our promise it would not happen again."

The insurgents were angered again when a communication failure led to further arrests, this time involving people who had been talking with the American and British negotiators. Most, but not all, soon were set free.

"We've put our interlocutors on a no-raid list," said a U.S. official, "but things still go wrong sometimes."

In one case, an American military unit raided a house in Baghdad, seized numerous guns and made arrests. It turned out the house belonged to Mahmoud Meshed Ani, one of the main Iraqis in the negotiations.

"He's still demanding all the weapons back," the U.S. source said. "But there is no way our military people can hand over Kalashnikovs to anyone, let alone to insurgents."

The main demands of the insurgents and their supporters were:

• Release our prisoners. • Move American troops out of the cities. "We told them that one will take some time," a U.S. official said. • Protect insurgents from revenge, particularly armed Ba'athists, who feared Sunnis might want to kill them in retaliation for past atrocities.

The discovery of detention centers where torture was routine, and the prevalence of Shi'ite extremists' kidnap and assassination squads, also threatened the agreement.

And just to keep things real: Ghassan Attiyah, an Iraqi commentator, said: "In two and a half years Bush has succeeded in creating two new Talibans in Iraq." The Independent says:

Iraq is disintegrating. The first results from the parliamentary election last week show the country is dividing between Shia, Sunni and Kurdish regions.

Religious fundamentalists now have the upper hand. The secular and nationalist candidate backed by the US and Britain was humiliatingly defeated.

More from that Independent article:

The Shia religious coalition has won a total victory in Baghdad and the south of Iraq. The Sunni Arab parties who openly or covertly support armed resistance to the US are likely to win large majorities in Sunni provinces. The Kurds have already achieved quasi-independence and their voting reflected that.

*The election marks the final shipwreck of American and British hopes* of establishing a pro-Western secular democracy in a united Iraq. -snip-

The election was portrayed by President George Bush as a sign of success for US policies in Iraq but, in fact, means the triumph of America's enemies inside and outside the country.

Iran will be pleased that the Shia religious parties which it has supported, have become the strongest political force. –snip-

The election also means a decisive switch from a secular Iraq to a country in which, outside Kurdistan, religious law will be paramount.

Lets repeat the shipwreck bit in case anyone missed it, *”The election marks the final shipwreck of American and British hopes”*.

Originally posted to Chris Kulczycki on Wed Dec 21, 2005 at 02:24 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar. (4.00)
    Didn't anybody else see this? I this not a big deal?

    Do not feel safe. The poet remembers.
    You can kill one, but another is born.
    The words are written down, the deed, the date.

    Czeslaw Milosz

    by Chris Kulczycki on Wed Dec 21, 2005 at 02:26:01 PM PST

    •  Negotiations started in November (none)
      I heard it reported awhile back that the WH had given the OK for Khalilzad and the military to negotiate with the Sunni insurgents. It seemed to me that the decision was inevitable so I wasn't surprised although it seemed odd that I never heard any follow-up reporting.

      I Googled a link in the India Monitor. I have no idea if that is a reliable publication but the information is very well sourced:

      The hard line toward Sunni insurgents remained even after the administration began last summer to put much greater emphasis on the political track of attracting Sunnis into the new government. As recently as mid-November, briefings by the US command described operations in Western Iraq as being against "insurgents" - not against al-Qaeda or "terrorists".

      But beginning in late November, both the US command and the US Embassy began signaling a dramatic change in Washington's attitude toward Sunni resistance organizations.

      On November 24, the top US military spokesman, Major General Rick Lynch, made a point of emphasizing the command's understanding of the "capabilities, the vulnerabilities and the intentions of each group of the insurgency - the foreign fighters, the Iraqi rejectionists and the Saddamists".

      He referred to the administration's "deliberate outreach" to the "rejectionists", which would allow them to "become part of the solution and not part of the problem".

      That same week, Khalilzad announced in an ABC News,interview that he was prepared to open negotiations with the Sunni insurgents, but not with "Saddamists" or foreign terrorists. And in an interview with Time magazine, Khalilzad, referring specifically to Sunni insurgent groups, said: "We want to deal with their legitimate concerns."

      Bush has also given Khalilzad some limited authority to talk directly with Iran. I can't recall at all where I heard that but here is a quote from The Sydney Morning Herald:

      Forty-eight hours before the Iraqi vote, the US ambassador, Zalmay Khalilzad, was up front and very public with the Iranians: "Iraq is in a particularly difficult neighbourhood - there are the predatory states, the hegemonic states, with aspirations of regional hegemony in the area, such as Iran. There are states that fear success of democracy here [and] that it might be infectious and spread.

      "We do not want Iran to interfere in Iraqi internal affairs. We do not want weapons to come across from Iran into Iraq, or training of Iraqis to take place."

      For now, Washington has authorised Khalilzad to go and have a talk to the Iranians - rather than bomb them.

      Diplomats in Baghdad predict that much of the push-me, pull-me effort to shape a workable new Iraq will fall to Khalilzad, the fourth and by far the most respected American civilian boss appointed to Baghdad since the US-led invasion.

      He is an Afghan-born Muslim who is acknowledged as a pragmatist and strategist of great skill, but the future of Iraq is an enormous burden for one set of human shoulders.

      I have always figured that the more we can keep the WH on the defensive the better shot the professional military and diplomatic folks have at making the best of the Bush Iraq debacle.

  •  Of course there is a truce (4.00)
    Soon enough, the Sunnis we dropped white phosphorus on in Fallajuh will become our allies as we fight Iran.

    Heh! Look at this speech. Change a few country names and it could be the neo-con stump speech:

    "We knew ever since the beginning [of the Iraq war] that the Americans would become trapped in a quagmire ... Iraq has become a turning point in the history of the Middle East. If the Americans had succeeded in subjugating Iraq, our region would have suffered once again from colonialism, but if Iraq becomes a democratic country that can stand on its own feet, the Americans will face the greatest loss. In such an eventuality, Iran and other regional states will be able to play an important role in world issues since they provide a huge share of the world's energy needs. We see now that the United States has been defeated."
    •  Iraq is the first pie of 'Middle East Domino' (none)
      If we don't stop them, they'll go into Lebanon as an alliance and attack Syria.
      But the priority is on Iran, since it's easy to pursuade the nation.

      Revelation is the best revenge. - J. C.

      by ysbee on Wed Dec 21, 2005 at 03:39:44 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Can't Wait To See The WIngnuts (4.00)
    Twist themselves into a pretzel (that is, if pretzels heads were up their a...) explaining this one away.

    9/11 + 4 Years = Katrina... Conservatism Kills.

    by NewDirection on Wed Dec 21, 2005 at 02:36:18 PM PST

  •  Sunnis Are Already Saying the Election... (4.00)
    ...was a fraud, and the Kurds aren't overly thrilled either.  Any idea that problems have been averted, mitigated or eliminated because of the election will soon shown to be fanciful.

    The revolution will not be televised, but we'll analyze it to death at The Next Hurrah.

    by Dana Houle on Wed Dec 21, 2005 at 02:41:20 PM PST

  •  Negotiating with terrorists? (4.00)
    I bet he wants to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers, too, right?
  •  WHAT THE FUCK? (4.00)
    Um...uh...I don't know what to say. Did Pretty boy George just cave in to the terrorists?
  •  Our negotiating position is simple (4.00)
    Cease fire long enough for us to declare vistory and get our troops out before the 2006 election.  After November 2006, we don't care.

    Man will occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of the time he will pick himself up and continue on. --Winston Churchill

    by rmwarnick on Wed Dec 21, 2005 at 02:49:22 PM PST

  •  Was wondering why casualties are down (4.00)
    I'm a big fan of negotiating with people instead of killing them, so this doesn't upset me.  

    Might not play well with his base though.

  •  Well, it depends. (4.00)
    Are they enemy combatants, insurgents, terrorists, freedom fighters, or foreign combatants? (And I don't know how many other nicknames I've forgotten, though I know Freedom fighters are from his Daddy's illegal war during his VP days. And speaking of that, isn't it funny how close the little apple fell from the tree?)

    Through all the shame of this, one of the greatest and most oft-overlooked is the war in Afghanistan, a country ravaged for decades now, and the opportunity to build real democracy, a beacon of democracy in the Middle East, and a strong, vibrant economy that doesn't depend on the drug trade there.

  •  No continuing presence in Iraq? (4.00)
    From the article:
       Negotiators reached a major turning point when the Sunnis demanded an American commitment to withdraw from the cities and stay inside their military bases.
        "We told them: We can go further than that. Our aim is to get out of Iraq, period, and we don't want any military bases here at all."
        But American negotiators insisted on security in Iraq before that sort of withdrawal.
        "Once they understood that, the rest fell into place," the American official said.

    Is this the administration's current policy, that we will completely withdraw from Iraq?  IIRC Bush originally wanted to establish permanent bases in Iraq, so we could reduce our presence in Saudi Arabia.  Has Bush given up on this pipedream?

  •  If This is Real (4.00)
    and not some made up fantasy shit, then we just started packing up.

    Embrace diversity. Not everyone is intelligent.

    by FLDemJax on Wed Dec 21, 2005 at 03:03:04 PM PST

  •  So we negotiated with the Saddamites (4.00)
       and the insurgents but not the terrorists. That's the simple way to say this I think.  I think this is a good thing.
         This is another indication of victory, now we can get the fuck out with honor... before the new Iranian leaning govt organizes and "throws" us out
         .... Along with the 14 bases, our oil contracts( 230 billion?), the non -iraqi contractors ( they'll have integrated enough useful locals to keep their grip), and the private security forces ( our new privatized military).
    -------
     Good diary Chris. There's a guy with the same name as yours that has written some very bright boat building books...when I get more time....heeey wait a minute.
  •  Missed it utterly (none)
    but I'm not in the habit of perusing the Washington Times.  Thanks for catching it and writing it up.
  •  and only 2 years and thousands dead late! (none)
    Its easier to send others off to die than to live up to your 'principles', until it becomes politicaly expedient to stop. I predicted Americans would sate their blood lust when only a thousand of "our" people died. Underestimated again.

    "The pen is mightier than the sword, but only at a range of greater than five feet" Malaclypse the Younger

    by buhdydharma on Wed Dec 21, 2005 at 04:36:43 PM PST

  •  Dubious Story (none)
    The Insurgents, for the most part, had every interest in holding their fire during the elections.
    There was no need to "negotiate" this fact with them as they are Sunni nationalists, and that was the strategy that would maximize Sunni leverage.  Or so they hoped.  That strategy appears to have failed.  So they're left with the gun.

    Anything's possible with Commander Cuckoo Bananas in charge. -Homer J. Simpson

    by Cheez Whiz on Wed Dec 21, 2005 at 05:01:40 PM PST

  •  Biggish deal, not big (none)
    Are you saying it's a big deal because Bush said one thing and did another?

    If so, there are much bigger deals: no nation building, we would always get a warrant, etc. In those cases what he said was reasonable, but what ha has done is horrid.

    In this case, "won't negotiate with terrorists" (you do not cite the context) is known to be a general rule that is broken when it makes sense (see Israel/Palestine peace process).

    Yea, you could say "gotcha" on this one, but the policy of negotiating with insurgents is not necessarily a bad idea. It might be a bad policy, it might not. We'll see.

  •  What happened is transparent as hell (none)
    The Shia theos winning outright is bad news for both Bush and the Sunnis.

    The answer: Get a sidebar with the Sunnis, tell 'em we'll be arming the heck out of them against the Shias going forward, if they play along.

    These sorts of switches can and do happen all the time in anarchical circumstances.

    It just requires a willingness to perpetuate such conditions.

    Question: Who's willing to do that sort of thing?

    Defeatism: Defeating Tyranny, At Home and Abroad.

    by cskendrick on Wed Dec 21, 2005 at 05:54:21 PM PST

  •  For better Times (none)
    see Asia Times :) They have a timely report to complement this excellent diary.
    "US embraces Insurgents" by Gareth Porter, 17 Dec. 05
    text

    Just because I'm an a-times fan .. I will also pimp their front page report "China Lays Down Gauntlet In Energy War." www.atimes.com

    Pre-empt Vergangenheitsbewältigung!

    by Petrasays on Wed Dec 21, 2005 at 07:35:51 PM PST

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