Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Breakthrough in US-Iranian relations on Iraq and the nuclear issue ?

There are at least two reports this morning about a relationship between the Hakim-Bush visit and the overall US-Iran relationship. Al-Hayat cites Washington sources who said Hakim delivered to Bush a letter from the Iranian president Ahmedinejad, but the only information about the content is that Iran proposes that the US acknowledge that Iran has a role to play in Iraq. The reporter then goes on to say that Hakim suggested he could be an intermediary between Washington and Tehran. There were discussions about the need to dissolve the militias, Bush pointing out that they (he and Hakim) have a mutual interest in controlling the militia of Moqtada al-Sadr, but adding that SCIRI's own militia, the Badr Corp, is also a problem. Al-Hayat doesn't return to the Iranian letter with any further details or speculation.

There is a more elaborate treatment of possible developments in the US-Iran relationship in Al-Quds al-Arabi. The centerpiece of the Al-Quds account is the Talabani visit to Tehran last week, and its possible connection to the current Hakim visit to Washington. Baghdad political people say Talabani was told by Ahmadinejad that we [Tehran] will bring the militias under control and you will be hearing news that will please you. Iraqi foreign minister flew immediately to Amman, where Maliki was to meet with Bush, to inform him of this, and the news is described as having had an indirect effect on the Bush Maliki talks in Amman.

Next there is this description of how the talks were (according to this account) enlarged to include not only Iraq, but also the nuclear question. The narrative goes like this: In preparation for his visit to Tehran, Talabani met with Khalilzad and with Hakim. Hakim sent sent senior SCIRI people and vice-president Adel Abdul Mahdi to Tehran to discuss views and attitudes in a preparatory way, "respecting Iraq, and [respecting] the enlargement of the new deal between Washington and Iran to include the nuclear issue".

The reporter says an Iraqi government source told him: The Hakim visit to Washington was related to this Talabani discussion in Tehran, and it is a discussion that is continuing in an indirect way between Tehran and Washington respecting Iraq. The reporter says it was this breakthrough in Tehran that led Hakim to take on a role in this, being the Iraqi politician closest to Iran. The idea of Hakim's visit to Washington was decided on the spot, and the reporter says this Hakim-Bush visit is part of "the proposals that were put forward by Khalilzad in Baghdad (apparently referring to the meeting with Hakim mentioned in the preceting paragraph above). The sources told the reporter Hakim brought with him to Washington proposals (from Tehran) relating to the new American strategy in Iraq, the Iranian role, and the Baker-Hamilton proposals. (This part dovetails with the Al-Hayat account referred to above).

The rest of this account cites unnamed "observers" and "analysts" in Baghdad, including these points: The Iranian "admission" of its relation to the Iraqi militias means there will have to be a long process of confirmation of good faith on both sides; Hakim probably wants guarantees that in the event of unexpected changes in US policy, his group will not be disadvantages or embarrassed. Finally, he says the experts point out that any "nuclear" dimension to the recent talks is limited, because it would depend first of all on the evolution of the European Union activities in this regard, and secondly it would be subject to a lot of detailed back-and-forth between Tehran and Washington. But what these recent developments do mean, the reporter says, it that they open up at least the possibility of a comprehensive agreement that could resolve not only Iraqi security but the Iranian nuclear issue at the same time.


Anonymous Rosemary said...

A couple of reactions, for what it's worth, and related thoughts and musings as I read it:

1. The possibilities suggested seem almost too rosy to be true.

2. In fact they seem so important, I am surprised their existence has been revealed even to the Middle Eastern press.

3. If they are tue, then we have ALL been victims of a giant world-class psy-ops operation, a shell game, as it were.

always looking in the wrong direction, maybe focusing on minutae that in the end does not matter.

Behind my thoughts is the knowledge of the relationship of Russia-China-Iran and the OIL resources in the region we are talking about and proposals for new methods of trading in this resource.

Wonder if Putin has had a hand in suggesting these talks? What's Cheney been doing since his visit with the Sauds? What is the REAL role of the Baker commission?

1:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

AMEN Rosemary!

To think that this entire Iraq thing is isolated from world oil (China, Russia, pipelines across EurAsia, etc.) is, to my mind, the Red Queen’s logic of ‘Alice in Wonderland’. I wish more analysis from this perspective were available.

As much as I admire, respect and appreciate Badger, Cole, Cobban, etc. limiting analysis to newspaper reports is to limit oneself to analyzing what the “players” what you analyze, which is not necessarily reality.

2:11 PM  
Blogger badger said...

Rosemary, Its definitely a funny situation. For what it's worth, al-Quds didn't put this on the front page, but at the bottom of page three under the two-line heading:

One deal on two issues: Iraq and the Iran nuclear file:
Hakim in Washington trying to complete what Talabani started in Tehran

The only by-line is Baghdad, and to me it didn't seem like a premeditated leak, rather something that originated with chit-chat about how happy Talabani was on his return from Tehran, then checked out via the part about the foreign minister having flown to Amman to tell Maliki, then the sudden arrangements for the Hakim trip to Washington, and so on, so it looked to me like something a reasonably aggressive reporter in the Green Zone could have put together. But I don't know. I'm like you, I went "What th...?" But I guess time will tell.

2:26 PM  
Anonymous Rosemary said...

Thanks, Badger, for the response.

If al-Quds didn't put this on the front page, they must be skeptical too! I've no doubt the reporter who supplied the story from Baghdad could be quite innocent. Good, seasoned reporters have been unwittingly used before for nefarious doings, as we know.

I guess we are all learning to be "Pravda readers."

Anon, I'm thinking in even larger terms than just the oil, but that sort of discussion is probably beyond the scope of this blog, and is risky, to boot.

7:37 PM  

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