Monday, May 01, 2006

The complex mess in Iraq

The Los Angeles Times leads with the positive development:
BAGHDAD — Iraq's president says he and American officials have met with leaders of seven of the country's armed insurgent groups and believe they can be persuaded to end their rebellion, according to a summary of remarks released Sunday by his office.

President Jalal Talabani told a gathering of Iraqi and Arab intellectuals during a Kurdish cultural festival Saturday that he thought some of the Sunni Muslim Arab insurgents waging a bloody guerrilla war against U.S.-led forces and the Iraqi government could be persuaded to swap violence for a role in the political process.
But the conclusion of the story is equally important:
Meanwhile, an armed incursion across the border by Iranian forces in northern Iraq underscored the dangers that a chaotic Iraq posed to the region. The Iranians fired more than 180 artillery shells and pursued Kurdish rebels across the mountainous border, Iraq's Ministry of Defense said Sunday.

No clear casualty figures were available, but Kurdish officials said they had reports that eight fighters belonging to Kurdish groups battling Turkey and Iran were killed. The battle is one of a number of cross-border raids into Iraq's heavily Kurdish northern provinces by Iranian and Turkish troops in recent weeks. Tensions have risen in both countries over Kurdish demands for more autonomy.

A similar incursion across the border 10 days ago drew a rebuke from Baghdad, where there are suspicions about any Iranian meddling in Iraqi affairs.
Reuters has the latest:
TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran on Monday denied Baghdad's accusation that Iranian soldiers had shelled Kurdish positions on the Iraqi border and ventured five kilometers (three miles) into Iraq to attack Kurdish rebels.
Two other stories of note this morning.

Bloomberg News:
May 1 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S.-led reconstruction effort in Iraq is running out of money and hundreds of projects are at risk of going unfinished as the yearend deadline approaches for handing off most of the work to the Iraqis, according to the U.S. inspector overseeing the effort.
Remember that Bush has repeatedly vowed to stay in Iraq until the mission is finished. Who believes him?

Senator Biden and Leslie H. Gelb have decided to infuriate the Turks, the White House, the Persians, the Sunnis and so on.

The New York Times Op Ed by the Delaware Democrat:
Mr. Bush has spent three years in a futile effort to establish a strong central government in Baghdad, leaving us without a real political settlement, with a deteriorating security situation — and with nothing but the most difficult policy choices. The five-point alternative plan offers a plausible path to that core political settlement among Iraqis, along with the economic, military and diplomatic levers to make the political solution work. It is also a plausible way for Democrats and Republicans alike to protect our basic security interests and honor our country's sacrifices.


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