We Will Not Be Betting on W’s Knowledge

Saudi writer: Will Bush know enough to look for a negotiated solution, or will he just carry on trying to inflame the Arab regimes against Iran ?

Bilal al-Hassan is writes a regular political column for Asharq al-Awsat. (He happens to be Palestinian, apparently the younger brother of one of the longest-serving “historical Fatah” figures and former Arafat associates Hani al-Hassan). His column today (Sunday December 3) on Iraq and the Bush administration is notable for a number of reasons. Here is a summary of his argument:

While the Bush administration seems to be rejecting the idea of talks with Syria and Iran, this would be a mistake, because these are two countries through which fighters and weapons transit to Iraq, and serious discussions with them could result in putting a stop to that, thus contributing greatly to Iraqi internal stability. Moreover, there are indications that both Syria and Iran are being amenable. For instance, Syria refused the invitation to participate in a three-way summit in Tehran, out of deference to the Arab position; and Iran, for its part, has said there is an important role in the Iraq-pacification process for both Saudi Arabia and Egypt. The Bush administration, al-Hassan says, should pay careful heed to these signs.

More important is the question of defining what the Iraqi problem is, and here al-Hassan cites statements by Maliki, (parliament president) Mashhadani, and Talabani, all indicating that the problem, far from being exclusively a security problem, is first and foremost a political problem, and the security problems derive from that.

Read the rest here.

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