Friday, December 21, 2007

The "new" American project: Part II, What is it?

I divided up the summary of Haroun Mohammed's op-ed (Al-Quds al-Arabi Dec 20, p 19, if you have to use the archives) into two parts, the first dealing with follow-up to the Dead Sea meetings of last month organized by Richard Murphy, starting with his report to Condi. (See the prior post). My reason for focusing first on that part of the op-ed is to highlight the incapacity of the Western media/blogging establishment to follow important Arab-world events where the American principals don't provide the requisite leaks with the requisite spin. In this case, there was not so much as a "no comment" on the Dead Sea meetings recorded anywhere from Murphy or anyone else in Washington. Moreover, when his report to Condi was leaked and as Mohammed says "circulated" in Arab capitals, no Western media picked it up even then. So that was my first point, namely Washington coverage is so bad that the Washington news (when it lacks, as here, any promotion from the powers that be in Washington) is sometimes best captured through the lens of Arab repercussions, because you are actually more likely to find an Arab journalist and an Arab paper with the antennae and the will to follow up, than you are an American paper. Not to mention the fact that newsworthy material from papers like Al-Quds al-Arabi is in turn shut out of American media on account of that paper's consistent opposition to American policy. So much for my editorial.

On to the content of the "new American project", as Haroun Mohammed was able to glean from the reports circulating in Arab capitals. The new project is something
[Condi] has been cooking over a slow fire for a couple of months now [he writes], under the rubric of the so-called national reconciliation, preparations going on now for the first political event [in this project] namely a conference in Cairo to be sponsored by Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan, to which [conference] Washington has promised in advance that it will execute its decisions and recommendations, and will impose them as requirements on the government of al-Maliki and on successor governments. Probably the most striking feature of this project, which is supported also by the UN, along with Britain, France and a number of other European counties and Japan, is the idea of preparing a new political road-map for Iraq, the various stages to be carried out in the course of the first half of the coming year, starting with the formation of a new [Iraqi] government in the month of February, and it is this topic that has been the subject of elaborate discussions with Secretary of Defence Robert Gates in Mosul and Baghdad last week, and they were completed by Secretary Rice in her discussions with Jalal Talabani in Kirkuk and Baghdad, along with his two vice-presidents Tareq al-Hashemi and Adel Abdulmahdi. And this is what caused the former [referring to Talabani?] to issue a series of statements from his office referring to resolute decisions and reform measures to be announced in the course of the first month of the coming year.

With reference to the Cairo meeting, Rice stressed to her counterparts in Egypt, Saudi and Jordan the necessity of convincing the Sunni Arab organizations, movements and individuals to attend, even if that requires applying pressure and tightening (or restricting, in other contexts, strangling) residents of their capitals to make them participate in the conference, and set out their political program, provided its contents are moderate--in Rice's view--and take into consideration the shape of the future America-Iraq relationship, which Washington wants to be on a par with its relationships to Egypt, Saudi, Jordan and the states of the Gulf, and treaties and agreements of cooperation in the fields of politics, military and economics, in addition to other agreements required by circumstances from time to time, for instance the attitude toward Iran.
In other words, according to this version of the stories circulating in Arabcapitals, the US appears to be very anxious to get good representation from the opposition/resistance Arab-Sunni groups, and is even prepared to ask the authorities in Cairo, Amman and elsewhere, to apply some pressure on those residing there to come forward and participate. So the question arises: Why is Washington so anxious for speed at this particular time? Haroun Mohammed writes:
It is clear that the American administration, working through its diplomatic channels to speed up the holding of this Cairo conference within the next three months, wants to pull together bigger Iraqi support for the America-Iraq treaty on which bilateral talks are to start the middle of January, because it has grasped that signing such a treaty with the government of Nuri al-Maliki--a government that is going through a ministerial and political crisis, and conditions of isolation and failure in security and the provision of basic services--will not provide complete legal cover as long as many popular and political sectors and organizations oppose this treaty root and branch, and consider it nothing but another aspect of the occupation or "mandate".

And it is also clear that a milieu ("circles") in the American foreign [service], and particular ambassador Satterfield, Rice's adviser for Mideast affairs, want the participation of the Baath party in the conference, and its participation in the future political process [in Iraq]...
And the writer continues on with a a description of attempts to get the Sunni Arab opposition/resistance into the process, and at that point he reviews the events since the Dead Sea meetings of last month, taken up in the prior post here, notably including a summary of some of the points said to be included in Richard Murphy's report to Rice.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Much appreciated, to keep on this, as response elsewhere is non existent. Odd isn't it that the skeletal parts to the actual future U.S. policy in Iraq are being sketched out and no one notices - except you.

anna missed

3:21 AM  
Blogger badger said...

odd to say the least...

10:24 AM  
Blogger annie said...

very odd

3:26 PM  

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