Tuesday :: Dec 5, 2006

Iraqis Flip-Flop, Now Support Regional Conference


by Steve

MSNBC image

On a day when Defense Secretary nominee Robert Gates says the obvious, and a day before the Baker/Hamilton Iraq Study Group is to recommend that a regional conference be held amongst Iraq’s neighbors to discuss strengthening the country, The Iraqis are a model of flip-flopping. It was just days ago that both Iraqi president Talabani and just yesterday that Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim, leader of the Badr Corps rejected such a conference, yet Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki came out and endorsed a regional conference today. Is it too much to ask that the Iraqi leadership compare notes and get their positions straight while our troops die for them?

The Shiite leader appeared to back down from previous opposition to handing neighboring nations a say in Iraqi affairs but stressed that the conference would be held in Iraq, and that while his government would welcome help, it would not tolerate interference.
"After the political climate is cleared, we will call for the convening of a regional conference in which these countries that are keen on the stability and security of Iraq will participate," he said.

I suspect what Talabani and al-Hakim were really against was the idea of a conference outside of Iraq to discuss solutions as if Iraq were a disinterested bystander, which was never the suggestion in the first place. What is required are multi-level talks with those inside and outside of Iraq, with the United States as the occupying power engaged in all of them.

Al-Maliki knows in advance what will be in Baker-Hamilton. He also senses a change in Washington, and knows now that Bush doesn’t have the political support for an open-ended commitment any longer. He also knows that there will be bipartisan support for Congress taking a more assertive role in fashioning policy towards Iraq. So al-Maliki is now taking the steps he should have taken months ago.

Al-Maliki's statement came a day before the Iraq Study Group, headed by former Secretary of State James A. Baker III and former Rep. Lee Hamilton, D-Ind., is to release recommendations on changing U.S. strategy in Iraq. Those are expected to include a suggestion to engage Iraq's neighboring nations, including U.S. adversaries Iran and Syria, in the search for an end to the violence in Iraq. It also is expected to recommend gradually changing the mission of U.S. troops from combat to training and supporting Iraqi units, with a goal of withdrawing the Americans by early 2008.
Al-Maliki said the proposed regional conference would be held in Iraq at the invitation of his government and would offer help, rather than solutions, to his government's ongoing efforts to curb spiraling sectarian violence.
Al-Maliki also said a frequently delayed national reconciliation conference designed to rally the country's various ethnic, religious and political groups around a common strategy for handling Iraq's problems would be held later this month.
He added that he planned to shortly announce a reshuffle of his six-month-old government "to boost the effectiveness and strength of the national unity government," but he gave no details.

It’s about time, and can you guys please get your stories straight? You seem to be pretty good at ignoring that the Shiite militias are a large part of the sectarian problem while you blame the Sunnis and Americans for everything.

Steve :: 7:55 AM :: Comments (17) :: Digg It!