The US military has established back-channel negotiations with some of the leaders of the Sunni Arab guerrilla war, according to Time magazine. Earlier on, the US had refused such negotiations.
Ahmad Chalabi was clearly angered by these talks, and said on US television on Sunday that the new Iraqi government would not be bound by such negotiations conducted by the US. Chalabi, who is running for prime minister, has a history of advocating punitive measures against former members of the Baath Party.
Mark Hosenball of Newsweek reports that Iran is attempting to place its assets in key ministry posts in Iraq. The Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq and the Al-Da’wa Party, both old-time revolutionary Shiite organizations, were in exile in Tehran in the 1980s and after, and it is not impossible that some members were recruited by Iranian intelligence.
Sunni Arab leaders met on Sunday to discuss strategies for going forward.
The Association of Muslim Scholars appears determined to stick to a rejectionist stance.
Speaking of which, I saw Muqtada al-Sadr being interviewed on al-Jazeerah Sunday. Muqtada said that the most pressing task was the expulsion of the foreign troops. He denied having participated in the election in any way. He recognized that some Sadrists had gotten elected, either on the Sistani list or as part of the Cadres and Chosen Party (which won 3 seats). Muqtada seemed to say that he would only cooperate with the new government if it set an immediate timetable for the withdrawal of US troops.
Am back in town and will post more regularly from Monday afternoon