Robert Fisk: Iraqi insurgents offer peace in return for US concessions
Published: 09 February 2007
For the first time, one of Iraq’s principal insurgent groups has set out the terms of a ceasefire that would allow American and British forces to leave the country they invaded almost four years ago.
The present terms would be impossible for any US administration to meet – but the words of Abu Salih Al-Jeelani, one of the military leaders of the Sunni Iraqi Islamic Resistance Movement show that the groups which have taken more than 3,000 American lives are actively discussing the opening of contacts with the occupation army.
Al-Jeelani’s group, which also calls itself the “20th Revolution Brigades”, is the military wing of the original insurgent organisation that began its fierce attacks on US forces shortly after the invasion of 2003. The statement is, therefore, of potentially great importance, although it clearly represents only the views of Sunni Muslim fighters.
Shia militias are nowhere mentioned. The demands include the cancellation of the entire Iraqi constitution – almost certainly because the document, in effect, awards oil-bearing areas of Iraq to Shia and Kurds, but not to the minority Sunni community. Yet the Sunnis remain Washington’s principal enemies in the Iraqi war.
“Discussions and negotiations are a principle we believe in to overcome the situation in which Iraqi bloodletting continues,” al-Jeelani said in a statement that was passed to The Independent. “Should the Americans wish to negotiate their withdrawal from our country and leave our people to live in peace, then we will negotiate subject to specific conditions and circumstances.”
Al-Jeelani suggests the United Nations, the Arab League or the Islamic Conference might lead such negotiations and would have to guarantee the security of the participants.
Then come the conditions:
* The release of 5,000 detainees held in Iraqi prisons as “proof of goodwill”.
* Recognition “of the legitimacy of the resistance and the legitimacy of its role in representing the will of the Iraqi people”.
* An internationally guaranteed timetable for all agreements.
* The negotiations to take place in public.
* The resistance “must be represented by a committee comprising the representatives of all the jihadist brigades”.
* The US to be represented by its ambassador in Iraq and the most senior commander.
Read all of it here.