Odierno: We’re negotiating with insurgents for a ceasefire

posted at 7:16 pm on May 31, 2007 by Allahpundit

This goes hand in hand with Bush’s new approach to Iran, of course. He needs to show progress by September, and if that means making nice with America’s enemies to calm the violence and give Petraeus something to show Congress, so be it. KIAs are up this month too, partly due to the new strategy of embedding in Iraqi neighborhoods and partly due to the jihadis trying to drive up casualties to raise the pressure back home for a pullout.

Whatever friction there may be between Sunni insurgents and Al Qaeda, you would think they’d smooth it over and refuse to negotiate given how close they are to their goal of driving us from the country. But you’d be wrong, it seems:

US military officers in Iraq are attempting to negotiate ceasefires with some insurgent groups that have been responsible for the violence in the country.

Lt General Raymond Odierno, commander of ground forces in Iraq, said on Thursday the US was responding to insurgent groups that have signalled an interest in reconciliation.

“We’re talking about ceasefires and maybe signing some things that say they won’t conduct operations against the government of Iraq or against coalition forces,” he said…

However, the insurgency is highly decentralized and it is very difficult to tell whether self-declared insurgent interlocutors actually have the power to stop attacks in any given area, or whether an agreement is being honoured.

A clear, public ceasefire in which a major insurgent group suspends attacks on US and Iraqi government forces would be major indicator that a political solution is possible. US and Iraqi officials have been increasingly confident that such a deal could be achieved with the more nationalist branches of the insurgency, isolating the more radical al-Qaeda-affiliated branches.

Odierno estimates that those nationalist branches comprise 80% of the insurgency, but like the article says, how much command and control is there? It’s not even clear anymore how much of the Mahdi Army Sadr controls and he’s the most charismatic figure in Iraq. An agreement signed with insurgent “representatives” will end up with some portion of the 80% laying down its weapons, but the more intractable types will defect to Al Qaeda to continue the jihad. On the other hand, having ex-insurgents as tipsters will be a huge help in gathering intel on AQ. We’ve seen how well it worked with Sunni tribesmen in Anbar in tamping down the insurgency there; imagine the information we’d gather from people who’ve actually fought alongside the jihadists. That’s part of Odierno’s thinking here too, I’m sure: if we can kill or capture the leader of the Islamic State of Iraq or AQ before September, it’d be a huge trophy.

Exit question: What exactly do the insurgents get out of this deal? Besides a continued U.S. presence in the country to shield them from the Shiite government they fear and loathe, I mean.

Update: There are reports out now that U.S. gunships have intervened in the fighting in western Baghdad and are targeting Al Qaeda. Does that mean we’re fighting alongside the insurgent groups there?

Update: And now they want chitchat with Sadr. Sometimes I wonder how we’d respond if Al Qaeda said it wanted to talk.


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If it’s good news, it won’t make CNN.

Freelancer on May 31, 2007 at 7:23 PM

What exactly do the insurgents get out of this deal?

The Marines will stop shooting at them? You don’t enter negotiations with us about a ceasefire if you think you can win. Obviously they’ve begun to recognize that if they achieve the ends they seek, US out of Iraq, Iran is going to murderize them big time. If they can get a break from the Surge Forces hounding them and defectors and locals turning them in, maybe they can figure a way out of the mess they’re in. That would be my guess.

The Apologist on May 31, 2007 at 7:27 PM

You know what? I hate to say it but we could really drive the American casualty count down if we changed the ROE’s. The fact is that we have been prosecuting this war with one hand tied behind our backs. You want to bring American casualties down? Change the ROE’s. The idea that our soldiers need to go through some 10 stage check list before they shoot, lest they be hounded by Army lawyers, is rediculous. Until that changes, we are in for defeat.

Babs on May 31, 2007 at 7:27 PM

The Marines will stop shooting at them? You don’t enter negotiations with us about a ceasefire if you think you can win.

Exactly — but knowing what they know about the anti-war opinion here, what makes them think they can’t win?

Allahpundit on May 31, 2007 at 7:29 PM

From what I’ve heard, the ROE is significantly different (and simpler) now than it was pre-surge.

jeffshultz on May 31, 2007 at 7:34 PM

Cease fire? You mean like the Palestinians do in Gaza and south Lebanon?

rockhauler on May 31, 2007 at 7:34 PM

This could help our guys take up strategic positions we would otherwise have to battle AQ to arrive at. Once there, we will not be dislodged. Dominate the battle space. If the cease fire fails, we will be there in their mist. With air support we dominate.

The insurgents think they are getting a breather to regroup or re-arm. We gain position.

Zorro on May 31, 2007 at 7:35 PM

From what I’ve heard, the ROE is significantly different (and simpler) now than it was pre-surge.

jeffshultz on May 31, 2007 at 7:34 PM

It still isn’t simple enough.

Until it is: Kill them, before they kill you.

It isn’t easy enough.

Tim Burton on May 31, 2007 at 7:36 PM

There are reports out now that U.S. gunships have intervened in the fighting in western Baghdad and are targeting Al Qaeda. Does that mean we’re fighting alongside the insurgent groups there?

Probably. But we have to weigh our chances here. al-Qaeda is more of a direct threat to our security, than the independent insurgent groups.

Exactly — but knowing what they know about the anti-war opinion here, what makes them think they can’t win?

Allahpundit on May 31, 2007 at 7:29 PM

Good question. I think there are multiple answers. First of all, I don’t think they quite understand the whole “Presidency” thing, and that the President can be thrown out at any time. They see the President having defeated the attempts to pull out of Iraq, with a veto.

Second, I think that they realize that at the least, the US armed forces would’ve been there several more months, possibly until next year, even if the withdrawal resolution had passed. That’s a whole lot of time, for ammunition to keep flying their way.

amerpundit on May 31, 2007 at 7:37 PM

Why is this bad? I see it as the Iraqi insurgents crying uncle, we give up. The fact that the insurgent ringleaders are being fingered by Iraqis puts them in the column of short lived, so best to try and get a deal for their help. It sounds to me like it’s a good start.

al Qaeda is another matter …

tarpon on May 31, 2007 at 7:58 PM

Exactly — but knowing what they know about the anti-war opinion here, what makes them think they can’t win?

US out doesn’t mean the war ends it means the war is unleashed. That’s the war they can’t win. Americans or Persians, who do you want to occupy your land? That’s easy. Plus, I’m not convinced they could last to the end of the year. We’re getting better at this stuff and because we’re not leaving secured areas undefended they’re running out of places to fall back to. Amerpundit is on the right wavelength here.

BTW, OT but TB dude has a SMOKIN’ HOT WIFE. I can understand his urgent need to travel to Europe to marry her. Don’t let that one get a chance to have second thoughts. I’ll be watching GMA Friday morning for the first time in five or six years. Hotchy mama! Lookout!

The Apologist on May 31, 2007 at 8:10 PM

These guys were Saddams army. Alot of military advisers have commented that the dismantleing of Saddams army was a big mistake. This is sort of like getting a second chance to strenghten the government.

sonnyspats1 on May 31, 2007 at 8:12 PM

I suspect one reason for the general Sunni population’s change of heart has to do with the fact that Al Qaeda does not share power — when they take control of an area, it is their way or the beheading video. No doubt the two have some things in common, such as a tendency for tyrannical hold on the reigns of power, but I suspect the Ba’athists entertained some wishful thinking that there would be a sharing of the spoils of war. As Al Qaeda gets pushed into these areas, the reality of Al Qaeda presents itself and the Sunni population doesn’t like what they’ve seen.

As for the their reaching some accommodation with the Coalition, it’s partly the enemy of my enemy is my friend, and partly the learning process that the Coalition is just a benign rash and not the malignant tumor that is Al Qaeda; they see room for their tribal system to continue to function within the confines of (or parallel to) some semi-democratic system and no chance of it under Al Qaeda.

Of course, there have been many other good points made above and no single reason explains it all. Mine is just one small aspect.

Dusty on May 31, 2007 at 8:34 PM

BTW, OT but TB dude has a SMOKIN’ HOT WIFE. I can understand his urgent need to travel to Europe to marry her. Don’t let that one get a chance to have second thoughts. I’ll be watching GMA Friday morning for the first time in five or six years. Hotchy mama! Lookout!

I thought the same thing when I saw that picture. Hell yeah, I’d infect an entire plane full of people to get home and jump in bed with that. No questions about it!

Nice outfit she had on too. Yum!

lorien1973 on May 31, 2007 at 8:41 PM

It seems about as likely to last as a cease-fire between Israel and Palestine. I suppose if they could keep the violence in check for a short while it might win some patience back home. It might.

thedecider on May 31, 2007 at 9:04 PM

Exactly — but knowing what they know about the anti-war opinion here, what makes them think they can’t win?

Because that’s the opinion of the defeatists democrat party and the willing media, not that of America as a whole (I’d like to believe). Even THEY know that!

SouthernGent on May 31, 2007 at 9:07 PM

There are reports out now that U.S. gunships have intervened in the fighting in western Baghdad and are targeting Al Qaeda. Does that mean we’re fighting alongside the insurgent groups there?

It sure looked that way to me at the hanging. I’m glad we took Saddam down, but the Saderites glad-handing ruined it for me. It was hard to argue who the real power was at that point.

So there’s a cease fire in the war on terror…uh huh.

The indians are beating the cowboys at their own game.

Buck Turgidson on May 31, 2007 at 9:15 PM

When in Rome….. The one thing I have learned from our actions in Iraq is that alliances are made all the time with the intent to be broken when an advantage can be gained. While the perception was that at any time America would pull the plug and run the locals where not too anxious to throw in with us. One of the benefits of this surge is that the locals now look to us as the big dog and it is time to throw in with us. That type of alliance will only last as long as we are perceived to be the strong guy. So if the Dems get their way and flush this whole mission down the drain today’s allies will once again turn on us as we are leaving.
The other dynamic is that like everywhere else in the world it all boils down to a 2 party system and for Iraq is Sunni and Shiite with no room for the Wahabbists.
In the end unless the Al Queda types are truly driven out of the country there will be no way to establish stability in the country. Of course stability may be a relative term given the historical animosity that is shared by the Sunni and Shiites.
And just for fun don’t forget about the Turks and the Kurds rattling sabers in the north.
/now I got a headache

LakeRuins on May 31, 2007 at 9:58 PM

I think they want a hudna. Sooner or later the Sunnis know we are leaving. They probably figure it is best to not grind down their forces fighting us when a bigger battle is on the horizon.

Bill C on May 31, 2007 at 11:45 PM

The reason the Sunnis and the US/Iraq government are beginning to dialog is, I think, a realization that their bargain with Al Qaeda is a bad one. Ruggio called it “the awakening” and the traditional leadership structure seems to be reevaluating what, if any further benefit, they can attain from their earlier alliance with Al Qaeda.

When it was simply a matter of trying to drive us out, they had common cause. But as it seems, Al Qaeda has turned on their Sunni allies, and the question becomes, “the enemy of my enemy, even if a former enemy, is now my friend.”

Somebody over there had the light bulb turn on.

1. The sooner the situation quiets down, the sooner America will leave.

2. Failure of the Democrats to force a withdrawal from Iraq by failure to override Bush’s veto means that whatever fantasies they had of Nancy Pelosi/Harry Reid surrendering Iraq to the insurgency are little more but vapor.

3. So, with Al Qaeda’s attempt to usurp the tratidional Iraqi leadership and institute their reign of terror (gosh they’re stupid!), dealing with the United States is now the better option.

From their position, getting a “cease fire” with America means that:

georgej on June 1, 2007 at 8:11 AM

sorry, finger check. Continuing….

a. Their hand for sharing oil revenues becomes stronger. They get a reward, in other words, and a greater role in their country’s politics.

b. Al Qaeda, which is mucking up THEIR neighborhood gets wacked by the Iraq Army, the US military, and their troops working together, earning them much good will with America.

c. an EXPEDITED departure of America with Iraq a place where a peaceful future is possible, as opposed to a cesspool of violence largely instigated by Al Qaeda. It means that the so-called “civil war” sinks back into the background noise of parliamentary debate.

d. I can see ZERO downside for the Sunnis in doing any of this.

The question was asked? Would we talk to Al Qaeda too?

Sure. To dictate the terms of their surrender.

Given a choice for the leadership and foreign rank-and-file of anhilation from their former Sunni allies, the Iraq Army and police, and the US military or being escorted out of the country without their arms, to try again another day, after the USA departs. However, if we are careful, when we leave Iraq, their army, police, and militias cold be working together to insure that Al Qaeda can’t come back as a serious threat to the government.

Remember, IRAQIS WANTED DEMOCRACY. They voted and proudly displayed their purple fingers. They elected a government and, no doubt, they will tweak it to suit their needs no matter if we stay or leave.

Nevertheless, I do NOT expect Al Qaeda to open talks with us. I expect them to continue to recruit foreign suicide bombers, blow these stupid fools up, and continue to get their own allies, the Sunnis even more pissed off and willing to help in whacking them.

What would the Shia get?

Primacy in Iraq.

The Shiites have little love for Iran (they fought them on their soil for a decade). They do NOT share a common language or culture. They are ethnically different (Arabs v. Persians). I do not believe that there has been the amount of intermarriage between Iranians and Iraqis as there have been between Shiites and Sunni Iraqis.

The only thing they share is religion. And as the heart of Shia is in Iraq, the last thing that the clerics really want is to cede control of their holy sites — in Iraq — to IRANIANS.

In other words, even the Iraqi Shiite leaders are Iraqis first before they are Shiites.

So, given the chance (and that means with a somewhat peaceful Iraq, now possible, and with American no longer having a need to remain), the Shiites would jump at the chance.

Remember, this “civil war” that the traitors on the left, the MSM and the Democrats tout was started by Al Qaeda blowing up a Shiite holy site. It has been Al Qaeda/Ba’athist “tit” to Shiite “tat” for quite some time now. Breaking the cooperation between Sunnis and Al Qaeda is in the Shiites best interest, too.

The wild card is Mookie and his control or lack of it over JAM and the others.

georgej on June 1, 2007 at 8:33 AM