Quiet US bid to talk to Iraqi insurgents
One Iraqi official says American representatives have met with some militants.
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"There were supposed to be negotiations (between Iraqi groups in Amman) on Nov. 9 after the US elections but they were postponed after the failure of the Republicans," he said. "People were waiting for Bush's visit to Amman to clarify his positions on the Iraqi situation and his support for Maliki's government."Skip to next paragraph
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The US Embassy in Amman directed all inquiries about the meetings with insurgent groups to the embassy in Baghdad, which had not replied by press time.
President Bush's renewed support for Maliki's government and its current path, Abu Subieh says, was likely only to add steam to those fighting for US withdrawal. He added that the meetings involved just part of what is a multifaceted resistance.
Others, however, say that such meetings are of little significance. "As far as we know, America has not spoken with any of the really active resistance," says Bashar al-Faili, a member of the Association of Muslim Scholars (AMS), a Sunni political group.
The AMS, while it is now participating in the political process and has elected members in the Iraqi parliament, has frequently made demands similar to those of insurgent groups. Many Iraqis accuse its leaders of having direct links to insurgents, especially the Islamic Army of Iraq.
The Iraqi government recently issued an arrest warrant for AMS spokesman Harith al-Dhari, accusing him of "supporting terrorism." Mr. Dhari is presently spending time in Jordan and other countries in the region.
"Maybe they are talking to small entities, and the reason for that is that the active resistance won't negotiate, because they want America to withdraw from Iraq," Mr. Faili argues. "This is a huge mistake – Americans have to be logical. They have to be realistic and to know one thing – that they are not going to stay in Iraq. That they are not going to have bases in Iraq."
The AMS is also part of the National Salvation Front, the initiative announced by Mr. Mutlaq.
The bloc includes Shiite and Sunni parties that are united in their call for regional and international dialogues on solving the Iraq "catastrophe." The only parties not participating are Maliki's Dawa Party, the country's two main Kurdish parties, and Hakim's SCIRI. It also includes the Fadhila Party led by Ayatollah Samir Yacoubi, a strong Shiite party that rivals SCIRI's power in southern Iraq.
"It is like a shadow government," Mustafa al-Hiti, a member of parliament with Mutlaq's party, says of the new front. "There must be change."
In and around Baghdad Wednesday, more than 100 people were killed or found dead. Three American troops died Monday, two as a result of insurgent attacks. Despite a string of ambushes, mortar attacks, and bombings Tuesday, the chief US military spokesman told reporters that all of Iraq would be under Baghdad's control by the fall of 2007, with US soldiers and Marines and other coalition forces playing a supporting role.
Meanwhile, a new poll by WorldPublicOpinion.org found that 75 percent of Americans believe that to stabilize Iraq, the US should enter talks with Iran and Syria, and nearly 80 percent support an international conference on Iraq.
A majority also opposes keeping US forces in Iraq indefinitely and instead supports committing to a timetable for their withdrawal within two years or less, the poll found.
• Wire services were used in this article.