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Backdoor Diplomacy in Iraq | The Nation

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Katrina vanden Heuvel

Katrina vanden Heuvel

Politics, current affairs and riffs and reflections on the news.

Backdoor Diplomacy in Iraq

On Thanksgiving eve, writer and activist Tom Hayden posted an explosive article at Huffington Post about what may be elements of the US's secret diplomatic exit strategy from Iraq. Hayden details a possible endgame strategy--including reports of US officials having contacted Sunni nationalist insurgents to explore a cease-fire and replacement of the Iraqi Al-Maliki government with an interim one. He also alleges that in October Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice appealed to the Gulf Cooperation Council to serve as intermediaries between the US and armed Sunni resistance groups [not Al Qaeda].

Such contacts, Hayden also makes clear, "may be nothing more than 'probes'--in the historic spirit of divide-and-conquer, before escalating the Iraq war in a Baghdad offensive....Yet Americans who voted in the November election because of a deep belief that a change of government in Washington might end the war have a right to know their votes counted." Confronted with an escalating humanitarian disaster in Iraq and increasingly horrific sectarian violence, it appears the US may be offering significant concessions without its citizens knowing.

"It is wild," Hayden wrote in an email Friday afternoon. "Bush-Rice-Maliki to Amman, Cheney to Saudi Arabia. The Iraq Study Group preparing its conclusions, the Pentagon preparing proposals of its own. Is it all just a reshuffling after the November elections, and in response to the devastating casualty levels in Iraq? Can the Democrats cohere around a proposal of their own? Or should we expect it all to go on, behind masks of diplomacy and management of our perceptions?"

As his latest article reveals, there is a quickening interest in US dialogue with the insurgents and the Iranians, a course opposed fiercely by some in Washington and Baghdad. The American public deserves to know what's going on, but if history is any guide, we'll likely be the last to know.

Click here to read Hayden's article detailing the secret story of a possible US retreat from Iraq and check out Hayden's follow-up on documents showing there have been secret talks between the US and the armed Iraqi insurgency.

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