FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

US Undermines Maliki’s Peace Plan

by MEDEA BENJAMIN And RAED JARRAR

The Iraqi reconciliation plan unveiled by Prime Minister Al-Maliki on Sunday had the potential to mark a turning point the in the war. But thanks to U.S. interference, instead of a road map for peace, the plan that emerged looks more like a bump in Iraq’s torturous path to continued violence and suffering.

Iraqi government officials, anxious to reduce the violence that has engulfed their nation, initiated talks last month with various insurgent groups to come up with a reconciliation plan. The roots of this plan are not new. They date back to the November 2005 Iraqi Reconciliation Conference in Cairo, where Iraqis from different political and religious persuasions came together and elaborated a long list of recommendations for ending the violence.

The plan announced by the Iraqi government on Sunday builds on many of those recommendations. It includes compensation for those harmed by terrorism, military operations and violence; punishment for those responsible for acts of torture; compensation for civilian government employees who lost their jobs after the fall of the Saddam regime; the promotion the political neutrality of Iraq’s armed forces and the disbanding Iraq’s militia groups; the return of displaced people to their homes and compensation for any losses they have suffered; review of the de-Baathification committee to ensure it respects the law; and co-operation with the United Nations and the Arab League to pursue National Reconciliation.

But two of the most critical aspects of the reconciliation plan discussed with the insurgents-the withdrawal of U.S. troops and amnesty for Iraqis who fought soldiers but not Iraqi civilians-were abandoned under intense U.S. pressure. The result is a weak plan that will probably not entice a significant number of fighters to lay down their weapons.

The withdrawal of U.S. forces is key to any peace plan, and is supported by the majority of Iraqis. A poll taken by World Public Opinion earlier this year showed 87% of the general population favoring a set timeline for U.S. withdrawal. Among Sunnis, who this peace plan is meant to attract, it is a whooping 94%. In fact, the call for a timeline has been echoed by high level officials inside the Iraqi government itself. When President Bush made his 6-hour trip to Iraq on June 13, Vice-President Tariq al-Hashimi asked Bush for a timeline for the withdrawal of foreign forces from Iraq. The following day, President Jalal Talabani released a statement expressing his support for the vice-president’s request. Then on Tuesday, June 20, Mowaffak al-Rubaie, Iraq’s national security advisor, wrote an op-ed the Washington Post saying that Iraqis now see foreign troops as occupiers rather than the liberators, and that their removal would strengthen the fledgling government.

But back in the United States, the Republicans had just spent the week reiterating their “stay-the-course, no-timeline-for-withdrawal” mantra. So while the initial reconciliation proposal called for such a timeline, there is nothing at all about any U.S. withdrawal in the final version.

The other critical area watered down by the hose of U.S. political pressure regards amnesty. The original concept was a broad amnesty for fighters and detainees who have not “shed the blood of Iraqi civilians.” Those who attacked soldiers, whether Iraqi or American soldiers, would be pardoned for their resistance to occupation, while those who attacked civilians would not be. But the final document was more ambiguous. It called for amnesty “for those not proven involved in crimes, terrorist activities and war crimes against humanity.”

Without an explicit amnesty for those who took up arms against U.S soldiers, whom they considered foreign invaders, there is no chance of stopping the violence. Unfortunately, it is the Democratic leaders in Congress who have been leading the charge against amnesty, introducing an amendment against it in the Senate even before the plan was released.

Sen. Carl Levin, the top Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, told Fox News Sunday that, “The idea that they should even consider talking about amnesty for people who have killed people who liberated their country is unconscionable.”

What is unconscionable is for Democrats to use amnesty as a political club to beat up the Bush administration in a “we’re-more-patriotic-than-you-are” election season game, instead of recognizing it as a necessary component any serious peace plan.

In his Washington Post op-ed, Iraqi National Security Advisor Mowaffak al-Rubaie complained that influential foreign figures were trying to spoon-feed the Iraqis, and talked about the need for Iraqis to find solutions to Iraqi problems. The U.S. attempt to spoon-feed the Iraqis a U.S.-palatable version of “reconciliation” is precisely the kind of meddling Al-Rubaie was referring to. And what you get with spoon-feeding is pablum. The Iraqis, hungry for a hearty meal, deserve better.

Medea Benjamin is cofounder of Global Exchange and CODEPINK:Women for Peace. She can be reached at: medea@globalexchange.org

Raed Jarrar is director of the Iraq Project at Global Exchange. Email: jarrar.raed@gmail.com

 

 

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
February 24, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Pierre M. Sprey - Franklin “Chuck” Spinney
Sleepwalking Into a Nuclear Arms Race with Russia
Ajamu Baraka
Malcolm X and Human Rights in the Time of Trumpism: Transcending the Master’s Tools
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Exxon’s End Game Theory
John Laforge
Did Obama Pave the Way for More Torture?
Mike Whitney
McMaster Takes Charge: Trump Relinquishes Control of Foreign Policy 
Paul Street
Liberal Hypocrisy, “Late-Shaming,” and Russia-Blaming in the Age of Trump
Patrick Cockburn
The Coming Decline of US and UK Power
Louisa Willcox
The Endangered Species Act: a Critical Safety Net Now Threatened by Congress and Trump
Vijay Prashad
A Foreign Policy of Cruel Populism
John Chuckman
Israel’s Terrible Problem: Two States or One?
Matthew Stevenson
The Parallax View of Donald Trump
Norman Pollack
Drumbeat of Fascism: Find, Arrest, Deport
Stan Cox
Can the Climate Survive Electoral Democracy? Maybe. Can It Survive Capitalism? No.
Ramzy Baroud
The Trump-Netanyahu Circus: Now, No One Can Save Israel from Itself
Edward Hunt
The United States of Permanent War
David Morgan
Trump and the Left: a Case of Mass Hysteria?
Pete Dolack
The Bait and Switch of Public-Private Partnerships
Mike Miller
What Kind of Movement Moment Are We In? 
Elliot Sperber
Why Resistance is Insufficient
Brian Cloughley
What are You Going to Do About Afghanistan, President Trump?
Binoy Kampmark
Warring in the Oncology Ward
Yves Engler
Remembering the Coup in Ghana
Jeremy Brecher
“Climate Kids” v. Trump: Trial of the Century Pits Trump Climate Denialism Against Right to a Climate System Capable of Sustaining Human Life”
Jonathan Taylor
Hate Trump? You Should Have Voted for Ron Paul
Franklin Lamb
Another Small Step for Syrian Refugee Children in Beirut’s “Aleppo Park”
Ron Jacobs
The Realist: Irreverence Was Their Only Sacred Cow
Andre Vltchek
Lock up England in Jail or an Insane Asylum!
Rev. William Alberts
Grandiose Marketing of Spirituality
Paul DeRienzo
Three Years Since the Kitty Litter Disaster at Waste Isolation Pilot Plant
Eric Sommer
Organize Workers Immigrant Defense Committees!
Steve Cooper
A Progressive Agenda
David Swanson
100 Years of Using War to Try to End All War
Andrew Stewart
The 4CHAN Presidency: A Media Critique of the Alt-Right
Edward Leer
Tripping USA: The Chair
Randy Shields
Tom Regan: The Life of the Animal Rights Party
Nyla Ali Khan
One Certain Effect of Instability in Kashmir is the Erosion of Freedom of Expression and Regional Integration
Rob Hager
The Only Fake News That Probably Threw the Election to Trump was not Russian 
Mike Garrity
Why Should We Pay Billionaires to Destroy Our Public Lands? 
Mark Dickman
The Prophet: Deutscher’s Trotsky
Christopher Brauchli
The Politics of the Toilet Police
Ezra Kronfeld
Joe Manchin: a Senate Republicrat to Dispute and Challenge
Clancy Sigal
The Nazis Called It a “Rafle”
Louis Proyect
Socialism Betrayed? Inside the Ukrainian Holodomor
Charles R. Larson
Review: Timothy B. Tyson’s “The Blood of Emmett Till”
David Yearsley
Founding Father of American Song
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail