Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The other Cairo Conference

Western television viewers and newspaper readers would be hard-pressed to know too much about the Cairo process. Have you even heard of it? Well, for a while now, US negotiators, the Iraqi puppet government, and representatives of the Iraqi resistance, have been meeting in Cairo for talks. The blog missing links, which usefully translates stories in Arabic for English-speakers, has been covering this for a while.

Although many resistance groups are opposed to the process, and many of the same Baathists whom the US has been courting are not engaging, it does look like a serious diplomatic 'surge' (odd, is it not, how addictive these propaganda cliches are). Several groups are involved, including the Sadrists (whose strategy has always been somewhat opportunistic, a syncopated enterprise of resistance and collaboration, of nationalism and occasional sectarianism). Ibrahim Jafaari is now talking to the resistance. Jafaari, of course, was deposed as leader of the Dawa Party and as Prime Minister of Iraq last year when Bush pulled the plug on the old geezer, despite the fact that he was approved by the Assembly. There are rumours that this is because he admits to being partial to Noam Chomsky. That can get you into a lot of trouble. Anyway, he is now the front man for a US-led negotiation process.

Now, it seems to me that one obvious conclusion is that for all the talk of success in the last few months of 2007, there is absolutely no confidence on the US side that this is likely to be enduring. In fact, a recent increase in attacks suggests that the temporary lull in attacks on US troops, won through a combination of bribery in some areas, escalation in others, and decisively redirecting Sunni fire onto 'Al Qaeda' (which is the name any gang of petty ultra-sectarian thugs gives itself these days in order to look well-hard), is coming to an end.