View Full Version : Iraqi leader proposes amnesty for insurgents

06-26-2006, 04:09 PM
Iraqi leader proposes amnesty for insurgents

By Csar G. Soriano, USA TODAY
BAGHDAD — Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki called Sunday for amnesty for some insurgents as part of a national reconciliation plan and said lawmakers should set a timeline for Iraqi forces to take control of security.
Al-Maliki did not mention a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S.-led forces.

Senate Democrats in Washington blasted Republicans after a New York Times report that Gen. George Casey, commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, has projected sharp reductions of U.S. troops by the end of 2007. According to the report, as many as 7,000 of the 127,000 U.S. forces in Iraq could leave by September, two months before the 2006 midterm elections.

Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., said the Times report and al-Maliki's plan raised questions about why Senate Republicans voted last week against Democratic proposals to begin pulling U.S. troops out of Iraq this year. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., and other GOP leaders called such proposals "cutting and running."

"These plans look an awful lot like what the Republicans spent the last week attacking," said Kerry, the co-sponsor of a resolution calling for a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq within a year. The plan lost by an 86-13 vote.

"Will the partisan attack dogs now turn their venom and disinformation campaign on Gen. Casey?" Kerry asked. "What will the Republican Congress say to Prime Minister Maliki? Will they label them the 'cut and run' military and the 'cut and jog' Iraqi government? Enough is enough."

Senate Majority Whip Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said on ABC's This Week that GOP opposition to Democratic timetables was based on the belief that "Congress ought not to be dictating to the generals what the tactics are."

The Times story was attributed to anonymous American officials who described a classified briefing at the Pentagon last week by Casey.

The officials cited by the Times said withdrawals would depend on progress, including development of Iraqi forces. Maj. William Willhoite, a spokesman for the multinational force here, would not comment on the report.

Senators expressed concern about al-Maliki's amnesty proposal, which they said didn't specify whether insurgents who killed U.S. troops would go free. "We'd be opposed unanimously to that idea," Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Richard Lugar, R-Ind., said on Face The Nation.

Senate Armed Forces Committee chairman John Warner, R-Va., expressed confidence on Fox News Sunday that amnesty wouldn't extend to anyone who killed U.S. troops once al-Maliki's proposal was fully developed. "I think at this point, it wasn't clearly defined, and it will be," he said.

"To those who want to rebuild our country, we present an olive branch," al-Maliki said in a nationally televised address to Iraq's parliament. He added a warning: "To those who insist on killing and terrorism, we present a fist with the power of law."

Parliament must approve al-Maliki's 24-point plan, which would offer amnesty to insurgents and opposition leaders who renounce violence and haven't taken part in "terrorist acts, war crimes or crimes against humanity."

U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad called the plan a good step "to mend Iraq's wounds."

Among the highlights: Pardoning and releasing hundreds of mostly Sunni Arab prisoners who have not committed serious crimes; compensating former detainees and families of "those who were killed by Iraqi and American forces"; adding rules of engagement for military operations that would require search warrants to conduct raids.

"I support and agree with this initiative and call upon all Iraqis to support it, because it will be the first step toward security, stability and the building of a new Iraq," said Adnan al-Dulaimi of the Iraqi Accordance Front, which represents the three major Sunni political parties in parliament.