Americans bearing gifts
The Iraqi newspaper Azzaman prints a curtain-raiser on tomorrow’s the Bush-Maliki meeting in Amman that makes it appear Bush will be “choosing” among a number of points on the Sunni-Iraq wish-list, and will be pressing Maliki to implement some of these on his own, or face serious consequences. The newspaper, which is nationalist in its editorial line, does not describe these points as particularly Sunni in nature, rather as reforms. But in the current circumstances, it is clear that Azzaman thinks this meeting will support a major pushback by Sunni opponents of the Maliki regime. Here is the opening sentence:
American president Bush will be selecting tomorrow in Amman the solution that observers are calling the final one from a basket of options that has been presented to him by [the Baker group] and by a policy that has been evolved by national security adviser Stephen Hadley since his [Hadley’s] visit to Baghdad last month as a solution to the question of Iraq, and there are six options: [First], issuance of a general amnesty to all of the resistance groups, and an expansion of the National Reconciliation program; [second], shutting down the de-Baathification agency; [third], including former Baathists in government and paying them conpensation for the last four years; [fourth], disbanding the militias and turning over the leaders that have been involved in crimes to the courts for trial; [fifth], freezing the law relating to establishment of federal regions; and [sixth], set a policy for the fair distribution of oil [revenues] to the people of Iraq.
In the same vein, the writers says King Abdullah, who met with Harith al-Dhari (head of the Sunni-opposition Association of Muslim Scholars) on Monday, wants to bring al-Dhari “within the environment of the talks with Bush”, and although he doesn’t suggest exactly what al-Dhari might do, the suggesting does give a further unmistakable Sunni/resistance-oriented tone to this.
Their take on the US political dynamics points in the same direction. They cite a number of statements by Democrats who will be in key positions in the new Congress to the effect Bush should press Maliki harder to end the violence, with serious consequences to him if he fails to do so. The discussion suggests the consequences would involve withdrawal of support, sometimes suggesting ready-or-not troop-withdrawal, but sometimes left ambiguous.
Read the rest here.