Talking the talk

Iraq president says deal with some rebels possible (Reuters). Talking is good, but I’m not too optimistic about the chances. As context, read [this excellent report](http://www.crisisgroup.org/home/index.cfm?id=3953&l=1) from the International Crisis Group, on the nature and tactics of the insurgency. They conclude that:

Despite recurring contrary reports, there is little sign of willingness by any significant insurgent element to join the political process or negotiate with the U.S. While covert talks cannot be excluded, the publicly accessible discourse remains uniformly and relentlessly hostile to the occupation and its “collaborators”.

The problem is the insurgents can’t negotiate, because they don’t have a program. Three of the four biggest groups are held together by papering over the differences between their nationalist and their salafi support bases. If they were to start seriously negotiating, they would need to decide on policy positions, and in the process would risk breaking themselves apart.
So my guess is that the Iraqi government has been having some vague negotiations with some members of insurgent groups – but those people won’t be in a position to make any commitments. The best we can hope for out of these talks is a better understandign of the insurgency, and developing lines of communication which will doubtless be of some use later.

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