The UK Sunday Times is reporting that talks between US forces and some of the major Iraqi insurgent groups occurred earlier this month
. The information in the story is attributed to "two Iraqi sources whose groups were involved,"
and are said to have "proved reliable in the past," whereas the Pentagon has apparently refused comment. If true, this would prove to be one hell of a development inasmuch as it seems to signal that the tough-talking administration may be realizing the scope of what they've gotten us into.
The article does manage to throw a wet blanket on the prospects by pointing out that Zarqawi's group has not taken part in the negotiations. Even ignoring the lack of participation of one of the (seemingly) most significant insurgent groups, the article makes it sound like the discussions haven't exactly been a resounding success, so far. Their key demand: a timetable of American withdrawal from Iraq!
Yesindeed, the main thing they want is the one thing news articles all week told us the Administration firmly refuses to provide. (more in extended entry)
Furthermore, we are told that in the first of the two meetings, "the American team began to irritate the Iraqis with what some saw as a crude attempt to gather intelligence."
Following up on that performance, they upped the ante on the second meeting:
This meeting did not go well. "The tone of the Americans was different," the Iraqi insider said. "They were talking with a tone of more superiority, arrogance and provocation."
So, the US delegation seems to be underestimating and ham-handing the process so far, but that's hardly surprising.
The bottom line of the story is that most of what the represented insurgents want are things the US is almost completely unlikely to give. A meaningful outcome of these meetings seem snowball-in-hell unlikely, but it's interesting to see that the administration appears to be acknowledging that maybe a solely military action isn't getting very far.