Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Syrian role in Iraq talks ?

In a nutshell this morning:

(1) Sunni political groups and former officers said the results of the fourth National Reconciliation meeting on the weekend (on the topic of de-DeBathification) show that the process is dilatory at best and a mere public-relations show at worst, according to people canvassed by the Al-Hayat reporter in an article this morning. He apparently didn't find any Sunni individual or group willing to say anything positive about the program.

(2) Tareq al-Hashemi, head of the Islamic Party, said in Damascus it would be a good idea if the Syrian regime acted as go-between in negotiations between the Maliki administration and the ex-Baathists that are living in Syria and that were involved in the regional Baath-party "reorganization" (encouraged by the Syrian regime). The Azzaman reporter notes this is the second case of an Iraqi political leader urging Syria to take up a role in trying to bring the Syria-resident ex-Baathists into the Iraqi political process. Iraqi parliamentary president Mahmoud Mashhadani said about two weeks ago that the Syrian regime should open up a channel of communications between these Syria-resident ex-Baathists and the Maliki regime.

(3) Syrian sources said the Syrian regime is "satisfied" with the results of the Arab foreign-ministers meeting in Cairo on the weekend, among other reasons because the position enunciated there with respect to solving the Iraqi crisis is almost identical with the Syrian position. The points of agreement include more-serious de-deBaathification as part of forming a broader-based government that would represent all Iraqis, combatting any efforts to foment partition of Iraq, stronger efforts against the militias, and so on. [These are all points that are implicitly critical of the Maliki administration: meaningless de-deBaathification, SCIRI promotion of a nine-governate Shiite region in the south; reluctance to confront abuses in the security services and so on]. The Syrian regime is described as particularly satisfied with the fact that there seems to be a meeting of the minds among Saudi, Egypt and Syria on the major points. (The journalist notes: The only Syrian point that wasn't included in the foreign-ministers communique was the demand for a scheduled withdrawal of foreign forces from Iraq). In other words, it seems the Baathist-integration issue has given the Syrian regime something it regards as a significant role, and a place at the table, in the Iraq-resolution talks.

Conflicts Forum has published a piece that tells in detail how Saudi mediation and the Mecca agreement re Palestine was in fact a serious setback for the neo-cons and Elliot Abrams in particular. If there is now going to be a genuine rapprochement between Syria and Saudi Arabia on how to approach the Iraq crisis, then the same type of question arises, with respect to where the Bush administration, and/or its various parts, stands in all of this.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Quote: "The only Syrian point that wasn't included in the foreign-ministers communique was the demand for a scheduled withdrawal of foreign forces from Iraq".

In other words, President Assad is well on his way to becoming a mere collaborator and a US patsy, along with all the other Arab regimes! Compared with Assad's cowardly opportunism, the martyrdom of President Saddam Hussein will be valued even more highly by genuine Ba'athists and other Arab nationalists!

9:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

anonymous is making quite a leap in logic based on one omitted item in a communique, I would say.

I find the report encouraging. Syrian concerns on behalf of the Ba'ath Iraqi exiles is a positive. So many of these are in the class of civilians who kept the infrastructure running in Iraq (electricity, water, sanitation, etc.) Their skills are badly needed in Iraq whether the U.S. gets out or not. I'm also glad to see this sense of unity between regimes that are considered Sunni and one that is considered Shi'a.

2:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The bottom line is that the US should commit itself to ending its CRIMINAL occupation of Iraq, dismantling its military bases (and its gargantuan embassy complex) and relinquishing its illegitimate designs on Iraq's oil.

The US has deliberated fomented sectarian strife in order to maximise its own leverage by presiding over a so-called reconciliation process that serves the occupier, not the people of Iraq. In that sense, President Assad has become yet another useful idiot.

6:48 AM  

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