Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Phantom US Senate Delegation in Baghdad

A US Senate delegation headed by Armed Services Committee chairman John Warner arrived in Baghdad on Monday, according to Iraqi newspapers, and had talks with Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki. NYT, reporting on Iraqi events later Monday, ignored the visit of the Americans, or didn't know about it.

(It isn't clear whether this is the same US congressional delegation that a Kuwaiti newspaper said was due to visit Beirut in mid-October to talk about federalism for Lebanon and other startling topics. (See the posting below headed "Al-Seyassah: US congressional delegation to discuss federalism for Lebanon and/or military escalation").

Maliki told Senator Warner during their meeting Monday that the Iraqi government's programs are on track, making particular mention of the National Reconciliation project. Malaki added that the US election campaign is having the effect of accenting the negative in Iraq, but he is not discouraged by this. The Warner delegation's arrival had been delayed from Sunday because of security concerns.

The Iraqi newspaper Al Sabah said on Tuesday October 3 that Malaki met in Baghdad on Monday with a US Senate delegation led by Armed Services Committee chairman John Warner. The delegation was scheduled to arrive in Iraq on Sunday, but their arrival was delayed until Monday for security reasons, explains another Iraqi newspaper Al Mada (about halfway down that big multi-item web-page, the item headed "Istaqbal wafdan al Congress..."). There isn't a lot of information on what was said. Al Mada says nothing about the contents of the discussion.

Al Sabah says Malaki "outlined the security situation, the efforts in the fight against terror, and the prospects for political development, with particular reference to the progress that is being made in the National Reconciliation."

After outlining what he said was progress in the development and performance of the Iraqi armed forces, Malaki added this: " The atmosphere of electoral competition in the United States constitutes pressure in the direction of minimizing the positive aspects of the Iraqi experience and shining the spotlight on the negative. Still, this picture doesn't diminish our confidence that the direction we are going is a positive direction..." and that "terror and the militias" will come to an end.

The newspaper says Warner confirmed the confidence of the United States in Maliki's ability "to lead Iraq to safe ground, confront the terrorist challenge, and realize the aims of the Iraqi people."

Al Mada, while it didn't have any information on the contents of Maliki's meeting with Warner, it did however outline the contents of another interesting meeting. The newspaper says Maliki met with deputy premier Tariq al-Hashimi, Accord president Adnan Dulaimi and another Accord leader, with representatives of the main elements of the UIA (Sadrist, Daawa, SCIRI and Badr) also attending. The report says all participants expressed extreme anxiety about the security situation, and all agreed on the immediate need for rebuilding the bridges of confidence and trying to restore normalcy. The report says they agreed on a number of measures that need to be taken immediately, and some are expected to be announced within a few hours (within a few hours of the newspaper's Monday night deadline, presumably).

SUBSEQUENT NOTE: Good old Yahoo news. It seems Detroit-area papers carried an AP story on Tuesday that quoted Carl Levin (he's from there), ranking Democratic member of the Armed Services Committee, accompanying Warner on this trip, and said the other two members of junket were Mark Pryor (R) and Jeff Sessions (D). The story could have been on the travel page. None of them said anything of note. It is a five-day trip, and they will now visit Israel before returning home. So I guess this isn't the same delegation that will reportedly be visiting Beirut around the middle of the month to talk about federalism for Lebanon.


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