Monday, October 30, 2006

Government-Baath meetings, and US-resistance "communications" continuing

Al-Hayat says there were meetings for two days in a row, Sunday and Monday, in Amman, between a delegation from the Iraqi government and "Iraqi personalities including former Baathist leaders and officers in the disbanded [pre-2003] army." And there were also "communications" [apparently not necessarily meetings] between "factions of the resistance and the Americans". The journalist's source for this was the Iraqi ambassador to Jordan, Saad al-Hayani. The main demands of the "opposition personalities" and the "Iraqi resistance" were the following: A timetable for withdrawal of "the occupation forces" and a return of the disbanded [pre-2003] army, dissolution of the militias, revocation of the law on dissolution of the Baath party, and return to work of those fired under that process, and a cleaning-out (literally "whitewashing") of the Iraqi prisons.

Al-Quds al-Arabi, for its part, reports the Iraqi-government meeting with "Iraqi [political] personalities of various orientations" in a somewhat less dramatic way. Al-Quds says the main purpose of the meeting was simply to invite Iraqi political people living abroad to participate in the Baghdad National Reconciliation meeting now scheduled for sometime in the first half of November, and give voice to their opinions in complete freedom. In this version, the former Baathists views on repealing the de-Baathification legislation and so on were brought up, but this wasn't the only topic. Several participants said they all agreed there aren't serious differences between Iraqis, and one said they wonder who is behind the recent wave of killings. The Al-Quds piece doesn't mention the US-resistance contacts.

The Baghdad meeting will be the next in the series of National Reconciliation meetings, this one planned for political parties and groups. They are expecting 200 people from within the country and around 70 to 80 Iraqis living abroad to come and attend too. The meeting has already been postponed a couple of times in the past few weeks, the first time following the disputed federalism vote on October 11. Earlier meetings in this series have not received good reviews. See for instance this earlier post on criticism of the last meeting.

Other related events were going on at the same time:

(1) US National Security Adviser Steven Hadley paid a surprise visit to the Green Zone, to confirm to Prime Minister Maliki some of the things that Bush said to him in their teleconference on the weekend. Hadley was accompanied by Ambassador Khalilzad, and one of the things agreed on was a joint council to coordinate US-Iraqi relations, including General George Casey and Zal for the US, and the ministers of defence and interior for the Iraqis.

(2) Foreign Minister Zebari said the Syrian Foreign Minister Muallam has agreed to visit Baghdad, probably next month, and Zibari called this a test of Syrian behavior. Zebari also said Iraq is requesting another year extension of the UN mandate for the multinational forces because their presence is necessary to keep the peace.


Post a Comment

<< Home