Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Amnesty in Iraq

When the news broke (and I found it here two hours before it hit Yahoo news) that so many groups (at least 7 and now perhaps more) were interested in speaking with Maliki's government regarding how they might join the political process yesterday, I spoke with a lot of people that are effected directly.

There is a symposium on this today at NRO, which I am grateful to have been part of, but I wanted to bring up some of the other esteemed writers' points. Bill Roggio makes the point that: "The Coalition should not and will not cede the ability to strike at the Islamist terrorists when the opportunity arises." I don't think that is a worry, nobody involed would truly expect otherwise. The biggest issue is that there's a lot of concern, rightfully so, and at the same time, we don't have all of the facts.

I am usually against 'amnesty' so to speak, as it sets a precedent for 'rewarding' law breakers. In this case, I think and hope, it is different. Michael Rubin makes an absolutely fabulous point as well, that it is not just Sunni groups that are the cause of major violence in Iraq, that the Shia militias are terribly destructive to the society right now, in particular Al-Sadr's followers. He says that,"In Iraq, the amnesty plan will embolden insurgents and terrorists, not pacify them." I agree with him on the insurgents, who I used to consider in the same league as terrorists. Spending time in Iraq changed my view on that. However, I believe that it will embolden them to join the political process in hopes of grabbing power. If Maliki's govt is strong enough, and that's the money question, it could be an answer.

What I had to ask myself was this. What is the alternative? We don't have the political will to go in and eliminate all of these groups. Neither does Iraq. So, they are what, just going to come forward and say, "we give, go ahead and try us for fighting against the Coalition." Simply not going to happen. They need something to 'gain' or at least perceived gain in order to stop. The reason is this, they don't have the same end game as terrorist groups like Al Queda. They don't want to dominate an entire part of the globe, with their own religious fanaticism. They do want return to power within Iraq.

With all of these insurgent groups, there is one common denominator: fear of loss of power. A retired Iraqi General told me yesterday that this is the thought process of these groups, they are thinking only of each moment, their own gain, and that they will agree to stop fighting against the US/Coalition troops if they believe they have a shot at regaining some power. An Iraqi friend put it to me in this way early yesterday: “It is not unlike Arafat. He was a terrorist, but then people agreed to allow him into a political process.” My answer was, “thus, all of our fears.” Will these groups really try to represent their people, and will their people hold them accountable, or will it be only a power grab? All they know, in many ways, is that power means survival. What is the alternative? We aren’t going to kill them all, and they aren’t going anywhere.

My feeling now is not to jump the gun here, and to see how it plays out. We'll have no issues calling out Maliki's govt. if we feel the terms are too harmful to us. This is a lot of forgivness to ask. But it's one of the issues holding back that part of the world. No dialogue. Eye for an eye. This may be a chance to change that. Iraq needs us for years to come. And yes, we will need them.

(For details on my travels in Iraq see November Archives.


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Anonymous About Medicine Blog said...

We don't have the political will to go
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4:11 PM  
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