The enemy rules

The idea of Iran sitting down to talk to America is rather comic. The setting is Baghdad. The US is desperate for any way to reduce the violence. Iran would be fairly pleased with its massive power in the country. Good luck, diplomats.

Conflicts Forum correspondent in Baghdad has posted this dispatch:

One of the more interesting — and quiet — visits to Washington was made recently by Sunni parliamentary leader Mohammed al-Dayni, who visited Capitol Hill during May to meet with Congressional leaders and administration officials. A Sunni member of the Iraqi parliament and head of the Sunni Iraqi National Dialogue Front, al-Dayni showed up in Washington for an extended 25-day visit to talk with policymakers about Washington’s Iraq strategy. The point of al-Dayni’s visit? To convince the Bush administration to begin talks with what al-Dayni described as “the real representatives of the Iraqi resistance” and not the “make believe resistance leaders.” What al-Dayni had in mind was that the Bush administration — and members of Congress — would reopen negotiations with Iraq’s Baathists, the same leaders it had accused of meeting with and harboring al-Qaeda operatives and hiding weapons of mass destruction.

The outspoken al-Dayni is known as a Sunni partisan, a strong anti-Shia activist, a long-time critic of Iran and a controversial and sometimes volatile critic of the Maliki government. More importantly, al-Dayni has strong ties to key figures in the Sunni resistance, a fact that has led him into increasingly disturbing clashes with Maliki — and which brought him to Washington in the first place. Then too, as head of the Sunni Iraqi National Dialogue Front (a disciplined political bloc that controls eleven seats in the Iraqi parliament) al-Dayni’s power cannot be ignored. “He is an articulate, if outspoken, political leader,” one Congressional aide remembers of his meeting with him. “He is a man of strong opinions, as well as a superb salesman.”

A superb salesman? That’s clearly an important consideration for making peace in the nation. Chances are he’s selling what very few people want to buy.

Suffice to say, during last night’s CNN/YouTube Democratic Presidential debate, most of the candidates had no real ideas about Iraq. Soundbites ruled.

Text and images ©2024 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

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