Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Iraq II: Reconciliation & The 800-Pound Gorilla

Details of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's reconciliation plan are emerging and I see nothing to sway me from my initial view that there is much to like -- and much to not like -- about it.

What's to like?
A reconciliation plan with a provision for granting amnesties is a hugely positive step. It worked terrifically well in South Africa and pretty well in Chile and a couple of Latin American countries, among other places.

The centerpiece of Al-Maliki's plan is a withdrawal timetable for U.S. and coalition forces that would be backed by a United Nations resolution. A timetable might provide some cover for the Bush administration, which could then say, "See, they're ready to fend for themselves and we can get the heck out."

Not coincidentally, several Sunni-led insurgency groups have approached Al-Maliki since he floated the plan and say they want to engage in negotiations.
What's not to like?
The withdrawal timetable does not include specific dates.

Language on amnesty from prosecution for groups including sectarian militias and insurgents that have preyed on Iraqi civilians is much too vague.

Earlier language that distinguished between "national resistance forces" and "terrorists" has been removed, as has explicit language about controlling party militias and death squads. Furthermore, there is no mention of the radical Islamists
who how come from outside the country, are at the heart of the insurgency, have no interest in reconciliation and want Iraq to be the center of a new Islamic empire.
Newsweek has more here, but it doesn't address the 800-pound gorilla in the room:
No reconciliation plan is going to go forward without the tacit approval of Baghdad's puppet master -- the White House. No withdrawal timetable will have specific dates until when and if it approves those dates.

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