Day By Day

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Endgame in Iraq?

The heavyweight contributors over at Counterrorism Blog note that serious negotiations aimed at ending the Iraq conflict are progressing quite well -- something that has been generally missed by the American and European MSM.

Walid Phares, discussing PM Maliki's proposal, notes that it is the result of months of negotiations among major players and contains a number of institutional mechanisms for resolving problems and promoting national unity. He writes:

The formation of a council for reconciliation, as a first item, indicates that negotiations among the main parties on this strategy have taken place for months. The text announced by PM Maliki thus is a result of discrete dialogue and has the consent of major players in the country. The conference of pro-government clerics to issue counter-fatwas in the near future is a powerful tool against the Jihadists. A proposed "Congress of heads of tribes against terrorism," is another tool, and the stipulation calling for support to "civil society groups" is also helpful.

Phares also notes that US media commentators and politicians have generally misrepresented the amnesty provisions of Maliki's proposals.

[T]he contentious plan for amnesty is not really a general amnesty. There will be special committees to determine who didn't participate in war crimes, terrorism, etc., and there are special conditions for all those who would apply for amnesty, including a commitment for non-violence and support for elected government. The text asks Coalition forces to establish a mechanism to address human rights abuses. The program also addresses the problems of the victims of the Hussein regime, of the terorrists, and the war.
Read it here.

Bill Roggio notes that the terms offered by Sunni insurgents in response to Maliki are a good indication that they are willing to deal seriously and in good faith.

The demands issued by the eleven groups, specifically the end to the bans on Saddam era Army officers and Baathist participation in the government, indicate a significant portion of the Baathist/Saddamist insurgency is searching for a negotiated settlement to end their involvement in the fighting.

One of the demands of this insurgent block is already being met. The Iraqi government has released 450 detainees on June 27th, and over 2,500 total are scheduled to be released "through a series of 200 – 500 person releases throughout the month." While the loyalties of those released has not been made public, the releases are likely being targeted at the eleven insurgent groups as a sign of good faith. At the same time, the Central Criminal Court of Iraq continues to try members of the insurgency for violating the laws of Iraq. The ten latest members of the insurgency have been convicted of non-violent crimes such as "possession of illegal weapons, passport violations and illegal border crossing," and several will be likely eligible for pardon.

Read it here.

In other words we are well down the path toward Iraqi national reconciliation and moving steadily toward a situation in which differences will be resolved within a coherent institutional framework.

Does this mean withdrawal of all American troops from Iraq? Probably not. Some presence will likely be maintained in a training and support role, if only as insurance against other foreign intervention, but the level of US involvement will be declining over time. It is increasingly beginning to look as though Bush will be able to pull off one of the great liberation efforts of modern times.

I've been trying to tell people for a long time -- this guy is potentially one of our greatest presidents, and more and more, it seems that the potential is being realized. I fully expect that at the end of his eight years in office George W. Bush will have left the nation and the world a much better place than it was when he was first elected.


Austin Bay provides some much-needed perspective on the past five years.

In 2001, bin Laden was promoting a “global caliphate.” The Islamist terror bombers who committed mass murder in Madrid (March 2004) intended to restore Spain (Al Andalus) to Islam. A week before Iraq’s historic January 2005 democratic elections, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi declared a “fierce war on this evil principle of democracy.”

These statements– mad as they may seem– were statements of strategic intent.

Iraq now has a democratically-elected government. Bin Laden hides in a cave. Spain did remove its regimental contingent from Iraq –an operational political victory for Al Qaeda– and Spain remains subject to terrorist threat. However, Catalonian-led regional separatism is a far bigger political threat to Spain than Al Qaeda. Zarqawi is dead and Iraqi security forces continue to roll up his network.

So who is winning this war?

Gee, I would say Bush is. Unfortunately in the current political environment far too many people, especially opinion makers, have a vested interest in denying Bush any triumph or even credit.

Read the whole thing here.

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