Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Bush will accept the regional-conference idea, but strictly limited to the Iraq crisis

A Washington reporter for Al-Hayat says Washington insiders Dennis Ross and Vali Nasr predict Bush will accept recommendations of the Baker group for talks with Iran, and will in fact recommend a regional conference on Iraq, but they stress that the proposal will be that these talks be strictly limited to Iraq and include nothing else. Nasr is said to have likened the proposed conference to the Taif conference of 1989 that laid the groundwork a realignment of the sectarian forces in Lebanon, ending the civil war there. Ross was a special Mideast representative between 1989 and 2000, working for both Bush I and Clinton. Nasr is an Iranian specialist said to be currently advising the White House.

Both Ross and Nasr have been careful to stress first and foremost that the proposed talks won't go beyond the question of Iraq. Ross said this is because the Iraq crisis is the most pressing, and also because the current Bush administration has no interest in opening any new files in the region, such as for instance the question of peace (Israel-Palestine), or that of Lebanon. Nasr, however, says that if the Iraq talks are successful, this could lead to an additional set of talks respecting other issues, including Iran-nuclear, Hamas, and Lebanon.

The reporter refers to "former US officials and current advisers", but it isn't clear whether this relies on others besides Ross and Nasr, or not. But in any event, the points seem well firmed-up: Talks will be proposed, but not in any context where there could be quid-pro-quo concessions to Iran or others in exchange for their help. This will be excluded in principle. The reporter is merely telling us what seems to be in the cards. She doesn't get into the question why on earth anyone would expect free and uncompensated help from these regimes.


Blogger JHM said...

Maybe Dennis Ross is right that Sec. Gates will stick strictly to war and leave diplomacy alone and not even try to be James Baker in disguise, as everybody else seems to expect, but is Ross close enough to this Administration to know such a thing for sure?

Dr. Vali Nasr seems to really be an insider, although it's a bit hard to understand why they put up with some of the things he says about them: But the real drama is the conflict is Iraq, which has ended up the worst way in which this could have happened.

1:19 PM  

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