Hope for Iraq ?
Below I said that Moktada al Sadr's decision to declare that the we and not Sunni Iraqis are the main enemies was a promising sign.
Now Sudarsan Raghavan reports a much more promising sign -- a break between Sunni Iraqi insurgents and al Qaeda in Iraq and serious discussions (with him) of possible conceivable negotiations by a splintered mass of semi rival Sunni insurgent groups with either the Iraqi government or the USA.
This is the best news out of Iraq that I have read in a while. Clearly al Qaeda must be isolated for there to be any chance of peace. Prominent Sunni politicians and people who claim to be major leaders of the insurgency forcefully argue in favor of negotiation in the article.
One of the things which always made it very hard to see how the insurgency would end is that no one seemed to have a clear idea of how many insurgent groups there are (very many) and who leads them (and who just thinks he is a leader). Raghavan's apparent understandingg of the insurgency is way beyond anything I have encountered before. I think it is a sign that insurgents are serious about negotiating and are using Raghavan to send a message to people in Washington (especially congresspeople in Washington).
Clearly the situation is still terrible. The many groups are two numerous and divided to negotiate. Their demands are reliably impossible (balancing Sunni and Shi'ite ministers and pretending that 20% of the population = 50%). The first to reach agreement with the US or the Iraqi government will be denounced as sell outs by ambitious rivals.
But there is some hope. It seems that the Sheiks (tribal leaders) are even co-operating with the Us military in fighting al Qaeda in Iraq.
I see a tiny hope of an agreement between Shi'ite Arab, Sunni Arab and Kurdish Iraqis based on the fact that they are all angry with the USA. Most groups (excluding prime minister Malaki who doesn't have much of a personal army) want a timetable for US withdrawal.
The majority of the US wants a timetable for US withdrawal.
A ceasefire in exchange for a timetable for US withdrawal would give everyone some of what they want at no cost to anyone.
Why can't I convince myself to actually believe it is possible in the forseable future ?