Unconventional thinking about the Middle East.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Khalilzad's past flirtations with 'Reconcilable Insurgents' is NOT a scoop...

The New York Times seemed ecstatic over getting the outgoing (...actually, he's gone) U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, to admit (...actually, he's bragging) to having had held talks with alleged representatives of major insurgent group in person, in Amman, early last year. (see Edward Wong, 'U.S. Envoy Says He Had Meetings with Iraqi Rebels,' Monday, March 26, 2007).

Nowhere in this story does the NYT mention that all this was reported back in December in the British press by the Sunday Times' Hala Jaber. I wrote about that at the time: Scandal: Khalilzad Negotiating With Killers.

The NYT piece seems geared to showcase Khalilzad's legacy, and his leak concerning the talks was clearly a deal struck with the reporter and the editors of the paper to sex up the 'newsy' angle of the story as Khalilzad leaves Baghdad to take up his post as U.S. envoy to the United Nations in New York City--this act of shameless self-promotion is the mark of a politician not a diplomat.

Here's my take on Khalilzad's legacy:

-Khalilzad saddled us with Maliki's ineffective cabinet: see my column, Dangerous Lineup (April 26, 2006).

This is the NYT version:

Displeased with the hard-line Shiite attitude of Ibrahim al-Jaafari, then the prime minister, Mr. Khalilzad helped engineer Mr. Jaafari's ouster, only to see Mr. Jaafari replaced by a party deputy, Mr. Maliki, who is beholden to the radical Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr.

-Khalilzad alienated the Shi'as: see my column, "Abu Omar" vs. the Shias (April 12, 2006).

This is the NYT version:

Some Shiite leaders began calling Mr. Khalilzad by the Sunni nickname of ''Abu Omar.''

But to its credit the NYT did pick up on the "Abu Omar" nickname back in July 2006 (Edward Wong and Dexter Filkins, 'In an About-Face, Sunnis Want...', July 16, 2006) so the Times was only 3 months behind my reporting at the time.

-Khalilzad pushed forward a flawed constitution that pandered to the Islamists, see my column Patronizing the Enemy (August 30, 2005).

This is the NYT version:

But critics of Mr. Khalilzad say that the painstaking and potentially rancorous review of the Constitution under way would not be needed if the Americans had shepherded a more balanced Constitution, instead of one that gave short shrift to the needs of the Sunni Arabs as it tried to appeal to the Kurds and Shiites.

-Khalilzad's cowardly negotiations with the insurgents (he fesses up to talking to the Islamic Army of Iraq and the 1920 Revolt Brigades, the Sunday Times version adds the Ansar al-Sunnah to the mix--the latter more closely affiliated with Al-Qaeda in the past) led nowhere, and it wasn't clear whether he was talking to anyone who could deliver a ceasefire in the first place, see my column, Dances with Terrorists (June 16, 2005).

Here's the NYT version:

An American official said it was difficult to determine whether the people Mr. Khalilzad met with really were influential representatives of insurgent groups, as they claimed. In addition, the Sunni insurgency has no umbrella leadership, and the groups have competing ideologies. While the Islamic Army of Iraq and 1920 Revolution Brigades are believed to be led by Iraqis bitter at being ousted from the government and the military, some of the most militant groups are radical Islamists, particularly Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, who have no interest in being brought into politics. ''We were never able to find people who could reduce the violence,'' the American official said. ''The insurgency itself does not have anything resembling a unified command. Even within different cities and different provinces, the insurgency is very fractured.''

The Ansar al-Sunnah and the Islamic Army of Iraq both adopted the anti-Shi'a rhetoric of Zarqawi's al-Qaeda, and the latter even went as far as tying the fighting in Iraq to what's going on in Palestine: see here and here.

Not to mention that both groups, as well as the 1920 Revolt Brigades, have killed and continue to kill Americans, including the security contractors hired to protect Khalilzad himself, see here and here.

Negotiating with the killers validates their terrorist strategy, and encourages them to continue killing; that's why one does not negotiate with terrorists, but somehow this lesson was purposely forgotten in Iraq.

Clearly, I don't like the guy, and in the wondrous ways of the U.S. bureaucracy, Khalilzad gets promoted instead of being fired for gross incompetence, to say the least.

(...Oh by the way, there's also that whole nasty business when Khalilzad was lobbying the Taliban on behalf of Big Oil in the mid-1990s, but nobody brings that up in respectable company...as well as some things that may or may not have happened in Dubai...)

In other news, Al-Qaeda seemingly off-ed one of the top leaders of the 1920 Revolt Brigades: Harith Dhahir Khamis al-Dhari (cousin to Harith Suleiman al-Dhari) was killed by a suicide bomber along with three others early Tuesday morning (...link takes you to the terrorist organization's official website, in Arabic...why is it still up?). The 1920 Revolt Brigades had split into two factions on March 9, ostensibly between one that wanted to fight Al-Qaeda and another that sought a reconciliation with Al-Qaeda. Al-Dhari was associated with the faction that wanted to fight Al-Qaeda. Ditto for Salam al-Zoba'i, Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister, who was gravely wounded in a suicide attack a few days ago because he and his cousins are associated with the anti-Al-Qaeda faction of the Islamic Army of Iraq.

Just a reminder in case Khalilzad and his ilk try to take credit for these intra-insurgent rifts: this all began when Al-Qaeda began forcing the smaller organizations to pledge allegiance to its new venture, the Islamic State of Iraq, and is not related to any ongoing negotiations to woo the insurgents to a ceasefire. This topic has been amply discussed here on Talisman Gate over the last few months and is just now getting reported by the majority of the media.

In such a situation, I wouldn't bend over backwards trying to placate the killers, as some are trying to do with watering-down the De-Ba'athification laws, rather I would let dogs devour dogs. But that's just me.


Anonymous JMC said...

From an American and UK prospective the Medhi Army, Baathists, and the Badr are all dogs of the same color.

They are amoral killers with tons of Iraqi blood on their hands.

Blaming all Baathists for Iraq's problems is as stupid as blaming all Medhists. Many factions play a negative roll and some of those that do can be negotiated with.

Allowing seveal thousand Baathists the chance for employment is a small price to pay to move these groups further away from al-Qaeda.

8:46 PM, March 27, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said...

60 Sunni men, women, and children butchered today by Shia killers just like the al-Qaeda suicide bomber in Tal Afar was hoping for.

At least the Iraqi Army has dicipline thanks to the officers from the old Army in its ranks, the Iraqi police are nothing but Medhi Army killers.

9:01 AM, March 28, 2007

Anonymous gawad said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

2:56 PM, March 28, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are many Dogs in Iraq. The Medhi Army Dogs around Iraq including those in Tal Afar that kill innocent Sunni civilians today as some kind of response to what a two al-Qaeda suicide killers the day before.

Nibras Kazimi, other then the Islamic State in Iraq killers Iraq is full of lots of groups under very different shades of gray.

Is Allawi the Baathist any less Iraqi then al-Hakim or Talabini? In order for Iraqis to move on they need to forget about the past. Anyone still killing now should be killed. But decades old hatreds and crimes need to be forgotten or they will consume the Iraqi people.

8:29 PM, March 28, 2007

Blogger Jaguar b. p. said...

But we can all agree that the blood of Americans in Iraq is legal.

As Abu 'Umar al-Baghdadi says:

I am not your Prince, nor are you my soldiers until the ground is drenched with the blood of the infidels.
Annihilate their checkpoints, burst into their bases, cut off their limbs, and remove their hearts from their bodies.

Let's see, the Romans came looking for imaginary WMD and in the process executed the most brutal slaughter of innocent people in world history.

So now they have occupied Iraq for over 4 years and their king Bush wants to stay indefinitely.

Their plan has been destroyed by the mujahideen, not by crusader apologists.

2:05 AM, March 29, 2007

Anonymous gawad said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

7:44 AM, March 29, 2007

Anonymous bb said...

A pity Nibras Kazimi's excellent posts are followed by some stupid adolescent comments, both here and on other threads. Spoils the site.

Regardless of this off putting, I read all the links to his previous posts on this topic with interest. Nibras, I noticed you voted against the constitution and seemed very pessimistic about it at the time. I wonder what you think in retrospect? Seems to me that if the Sunni provinces had voted it down in Dec 05 the backwash would have been fatal for Iraq's democracy. There would have been no Jan 06 general elections. The Samarra bombing would have still occured and maybe worse because the triumphant Jihadis and the Baath would have been on a roll with the government and US policy in chaos. Worst of all US public opinion would have turned much earlier and irrevocably?

While the constitution based as it is on proportional representation encouraged sectarian party bloc voting and led to dreadfull bloodshed under severe AlQ/Sunni provocation, it is my op that it is only the bedrock of this constitution and the subsequent election that has kept the country together and functioning since then?

You don't have much time for the departing US Ambassador's efforts to bring the Sunnis into the political process, but it has been Bush's policy from the beginning ( as opposed to State Dept/Pentagon) for a genuine Iraqi democracy not for a replacement "strongman". The Ambass was obviously charged with this task, as was Bremer. Bush's instincts after 9/11 led him to overthrow decades of Kissinger and realism and he has stuck to it, for good or ill. Like all births, the labour is extremely painful and prolonged as Rice indicated in relation to Lebanon. But it seems to me that Bush/Rice are pursuing a 5 track map involving Israel/ Palestine, Lebanon, Syria/Sunni Arab States, Iraq and Iran and the tracks are timed to merge before W's Administration finishes? If they pull it off they will go down in history as the one of the greatest strategic teams in history. If they fail, President Billary will no doubt take up the task, because it is the only one that serves US interests.

3:00 AM, March 30, 2007

Blogger Jaguar b. p. said...

The number 1 problem is the occupation, not your bogus elections.

US troops have no right to be there and should be slain/expelled

Most of Iraq agrees, as a recent poll shows the majority of Iraqis wouldn't mind Americans getting shot in the face.

4:25 AM, March 30, 2007

Anonymous gawad said...

Hi BB,

I agree that this site is spoiled by comments from Jaguar Big Pimping. It pains me to see a rabid relentless homosexual such as Jaguar Big Pimping running rampant. He and his al-Qa'ida and Ba'athist allies and supporters are a curse to all of humanity.

BB, it would be nice to see Mr. Bush execute his plan in Iraq but after so many mistakes it is in doubt. As we saw with the ISG report, old DOS Arabist ideas are still alive and well and SOBs such as Baker, with plenty of congressional support, are saying, "Let's go back to the old older, let's forget about empowering the Iraqi people, let's kiss the dictators." If things go poorly for Mr. Bush and his allies, the Middle East will be set back years. Don't kid yourself, Israel/Palestine won't be wrapped up anytime soon. And Iraq is in serious question.

I suggest that the US support Maliki in exploiting the splits within the terrorist Sunni Arab "resistance" and give him the backing he must have to tackle certain dangerous Shi'ite factions, such as some of the Sadrists. This is already happening. Also I suggest spitting in the face of many Saddamist Jordanians and the entire tribe of Jaguar Big Pimping.

Hillary Clinton or Barrack Obama will hand the Middle East back to the old SOBs. It would suck.

6:57 AM, March 30, 2007

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