James Hider at The Times
is reporting that despite the White House's "no change" position
after the weekend's high-level policy "discussion," that there is
indeed a change in the works.
"AMERICAN forces are negotiating an amnesty with Sunni insurgents in Iraq to try to defuse the nascent civil war and pave the way for disarmament of Shia militias...."
If Hider's report is correct, then I imagine BushCo will be working on how to square negotiating with
the insurgents with their prior swagger talk about not negotiating with
do not negotiate with terrorists. We put
them out of business."
I suppose we will see a careful redefinition of the pesky term "terrorist," up to now so useful to this administration.
This may be a broadened version of the amnesty
plan floated by P.M. al-Maliki
back in June, but
as Hider reports it, there seems to be a new willingness by US negotiators to cut
a deal with insurgents:
Salman al-Jumeili, a deputy from the main Sunni bloc, Twafoq, said that the amnesty reports had caught Sunni politicians by surprise. "I'm betting this must be part of a dialogue between the resistance and the Americans," he said.
The plan -- still officially under wraps -- would be to isolate Iraqi guerrillas from al-Qaeda by offering an amnesty and a date for a US withdrawal, and to use the resistance's highly sophisticated intelligence network to stamp out foreign Islamist fighters and criminal gangs.
As Hider reports, the situation on the ground isn't promising for such a deal:
Mr Shabander [an MP from the secular Iraqiya bloc] said that some of the main Shia parties were reluctant because the sectarian conflict bolstered their agenda for an autonomous Shia region in the oil-rich south. Armed al-Qaeda militants paraded through city centres at the weekend, proving that they are far from being isolated from the community.