This could come to nothing, of course, but it also could be the best news from Iraq in a long time: “U.S. in Secret Talks with Iraqi Insurgents”:
U.S. diplomats and intelligence officers are conducting secret talks with Iraq’s Sunni insurgents on ways to end fighting there, Time magazine reported on Sunday, citing Pentagon and other sources.
The magazine cited a secret meeting between two members of the U.S. military and an Iraqi negotiator, a middle-aged former member of Saddam Hussein’s regime and the senior representative of what he called the nationalist insurgency.
“We are ready to work with you,” the Iraqi negotiator said, according to Time.
Iraqi insurgent leaders not aligned with al Qaeda ally Abu Mousab al-Zarqawi told the magazine several nationalist groups composed of what the Pentagon calls “former regime elements” have become open to negotiating. The insurgents said their aim was to establish a political identity that can represent disenfranchised Sunnis.
The so-called insurgency has long consisted of two main elements, the al Qaeda-linked terrorists, most of whom are not Iraqis, and Baathist Sunnis whose objectives are more narrowly political. It sounds as though some of the latter group, at least, are ready to throw in the towel. Their violence had two main strategic objectives: first, to prevent President Bush from being re-elected; second, to prevent the Iraqi election from going forward. Both failed. If they give up, the terrorists will be isolated and can much more easily be defeated.
This news story is closely related: “Sunnis Seek Place in New Iraqi Government”:
As the Shiite majority prepared to take control of the country’s first freely elected government, tribal chiefs representing Sunni Arabs in six provinces issued a list of demands