Talks with Iraq rebels end in failure

Negotiations between the Iraqi government and armed groups have failed several times, breaking off hopes of peace. But communication channels through officials, deputies and tribal leaders remain open

Gulf News

Baghdad: Negotiations between the Iraqi government and armed groups have failed several times, breaking off hopes of peace.

In fact, it seems that whenever dialogues start, the security situation in Baghdad deteriorates further.

Babakir Zibari, Iraqi Chief of Staff, denied there was any dialogue between the Iraqi military leadership and the armed groups, where the army is deployed.

Most Iraqi political reports revealed that the Americans do not prefer Iraqi leaders to be present in any dialogue with armed groups. The militants also do not wish Iraqi sides to be present during negotiations.

Some reports said Iraqi President Jalal Talabani was holding talks with the armed groups through different channels. Talabani himself announced that such communications exist.

The Iraqi official sources said first of these channels is through Wafeeq Al Samarrai, Advisor to the Iraqi President, who has some influence on the militants in Samarra and its surrounding areas.

Iraqi sources told Gulf News that Al Samarrai would list names of scores of militants and tell Talabani that they want to be integrated into the military, political and security forces. In return, they will drop arms.

Tribal leaders like in Al Qaim city on the Syria-Iraq border, form the second channel and Osama Al Jadaani plays the part of Al Samarrai here. Iraqi politicians described that what was going on was brokerage that aims to collect money against settling the security situations in one place or the other. They said the contacts never developed into dialogues or negotiations.

Talabani stressed that supporters of the ousted regime, their followers and supporters of militant Abu Musab Al Zarqawi are not concerned with any communications.

Talabani's deputy in Sulaimaniah, Nour Shirwan Mustafa Ameen, form the third channel of dialogue.

This is believed to be the strongest line of communication with the militants and the most trusted for both Talabani and the Americans.

Ameen, who is one of the strong supporters of the re-integration of Baathists into the Iraqi political life, is "believed to have met Baathists abroad, including the former Foreign Minister, Naji Sabri Al Hudaithi, and some of the personalities who live in the UAE", an Iraqi source told Gulf News.

Meanwhile, Islamic Army and Mujahideen Army statements said they conducted armed operations against the Americans, the Iraqi police and the army.

There is a strong belief that as Talabani, who has strong relations with the Americans, can set aside certain amounts of money for such dialogues.

Shiite leaders are the only ones who did not enter negotiations with the Iraqi militants.

Ammar Al Hakim, a leader of the Supreme Council of Islamic Revolution, told Gulf News that separating resistance from terror is difficult.

Violence: Seven of 10 kidnapped rescued in gunbattle

Gunmen kidnapped 10 people in two mostly Sunni Arab villages in Baqouba yesterday, but US and Iraqi forces rescued seven of them in a gunbattle, police said. Three American soldiers were killed in separate attacks south of the capital.

In another development, Grand Ayatollah Ali Al Sistani, Iraq's top Shiite cleric, ordered all Shiite mosques to close for three days in a town in southern Iraq where a local Sunni Arab leader was killed.

The attackers arrived in several cars and pickup trucks around 6.30am and seized 10 young men from their homes. But local shaikhs and citizens confronted them, police said.

- The writer is a journalist based in Baghdad