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Thread: Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad In Talks With Iraqi Insurgents: Report

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2005

    Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad In Talks With Iraqi Insurgents: Report

    US official in talks with Iraqi insurgents: report

    (Gold9472: Good little PNACer...)

    Sun Dec 4, 4:37 PM ET

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. ambassador to Iraq is holding talks with Iraqi nationalist insurgents and the Sunnis they represent, Time magazine reported on Sunday.

    Time quoted U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad as saying "We will intensify the engagement, interaction and discussion with them." He said reaching out to Sunnis regarding their "legitimate concerns" makes sense because of rifts between the nationalist and al Qaeda camps in the insurgency.

    Asked about the report on CNN's "Late Edition," National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley said U.S. officials are "not going to have contact with people who have blood on their hands." But he said the officials have had contacts with Sunni groups for some time.

    Hadley said the ambassador was trying to convince Sunnis that democratization will succeed and that "the Sunnis have a place in a democratic Iraq and they need to step forward now, to take that place by participating in the elections."

    Hadley said Khalilzad is also authorized to have "very low level" talks with Iranian officials in Baghdad "for the very limited purpose of making clear to the Iranians that we are seeing Iranian equipment and technology showing up, in Iraq, in the hands of people that are attacking the coalition, and that this is unacceptable." He is not dealing with the full range of U.S.-Iranian issues, Hadley said.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

  2. #2
    Partridge Guest
    Training of Iraq Forces Suffer 'Setback'
    Associated Press

    The training of Iraqi security forces has suffered a big "setback" in the last six months, with the army and other forces being increasingly used to settle scores and make other political gains, Iraqi Vice President Ghazi al-Yawer said Monday.

    Al-Yawer disputed contentions by U.S. officials, including President Bush, that the training of security forces was gathering speed, resulting in more professional troops.

    Bush has said the United States will not pull out of Iraq until Iraq's own forces can maintain security. In a speech last week, he said Iraqi forces are becoming increasingly capable of securing the country.

    Al-Yawer, a Sunni moderate, said he agreed the United States cannot pull out now because "there will be a huge vacuum," leaving Iraq in danger of falling into civil war. In particular, armed Shiite militias in the south might try to incite war if U.S.-led coalition forces leave, he said in an interview with The Associated Press and a U.S. newspaper at a conference here.

    "I wish it were that simple," he said of calls to set a timetable for withdrawal or a drawdown.

    But al-Yawer said recent allegations that Interior Ministry security forces - dominated by Shiites - have tortured Sunni detainees were evidence that many forces are increasingly politicized and sectarian. Some of the recently trained Iraqi forces focus on settling scores and other political goals rather than maintaining security, he said.

    In addition, some Iraqi military commanders have been dismissed for political reasons, rather than judged on merit, he said.

    He said the army - also dominated by Shiites - is conducting raids against villages and towns in Sunni and mixed areas of Iraq, rather than targeting specific insurgents - a tactic he said reminded many Sunnis of Saddam Hussein-era raids.

    "Saddam used to raid villages," using security forces, he said. "This is not the way to do it."

    Al-Yawer also expressed grave concern that Iraqi army units might use intimidation to try to keep Sunni voters from the polls during the country's crucial Dec. 15 general election.

    American officials - and Sunni moderates like al-Yawer - are trying to persuade Sunnis to go to the polls, hoping that if they gain a sizable chunk of parliament, Sunnis will abandon support for the insurgency.

    Al-Yawer said many Sunnis want to vote. But he noted that both intimidation and voter fraud occurred during the Oct. 15 constitutional referendum, and complaints to the Iraqi Electoral Commission and U.N. voting advisers went nowhere, he said.

    His supporters have made a series of requests to ensure a fair vote this time, including changes to the electoral commission and adequate numbers of polling stations and ballots in Sunni areas, he said. Most importantly, they have asked that U.S.-led coalition forces, and not Iraqi army troops, guard polling stations, he said.

    Many outside experts have expressed concern that Iraqi security forces will actually increase tensions if they guard Sunni areas, rather than keep order. Al-Yawer did not specifically say that Shiites make up too much of the army, but said he would like to see more political and sectarian balance - especially among the officer corps.

    Al-Yawer, running on a slate of secular candidates along with former Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, also said he believes the Saddam trial also should be postponed until after the Dec. 15 election so Iraqis can focus on the election.

    He expressed frustration with the trial so far, saying it is giving Saddam an opportunity to grandstand and appear sympathetic.

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