Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Chron: Sunnis offer an exit plan

The urgent need for the US to extricate itself from the Iraqi war is becoming more and more obvious to more and more people. For career officers in the military, for the realist Republicans like Chuck Hagel, for Democrats like Barbara Lee, Lynne Woolsey, Russ Feingold, and dozens of others, for so many Americans it is becoming clear that we must find a way out.

So its both hopeful and surprising to hear that a possible consensus is emerging among Iraqi Sunnis on how to do just that without making the mess worse. Check this out from the SF Chron: Sunnis offer an exit plan

Largely unnoticed amid the U.S. political debate, al-Rawi and other Sunni leaders close to the insurgency have reached tacit consensus over the broad outline of an interim program to reduce the violence, stabilize the country and thus enable the U.S.-led coalition troops to begin a gradual withdrawal. While differences remain on some points, there is wide agreement on these steps:

  • A troop pullout from most urban areas and an end to military checkpoints and raids. "The Americans and British must leave all residential areas," said al-Rawi. [...]
  • Overhaul of the Iraqi Army and National Guard. [...]
  • Release of prisoners. [...]
  • Amnesty for pro-Baathist, radical Islamist and hard-line nationalist groups, while excluding al Qaeda. [...]
  • Negotiations with the "resistance." [...]

"We realize that it will take a long time for the Americans to leave. We cannot say six months or 12 months, because we may have to change the plan when the situation changes. If the Americans start taking real steps, if the Iraqi people feel that they will no longer be occupied, they will say with one voice to the terrorists, 'Please leave us.' And they will go," he said.

"But in this situation now, when the troops are even in our universities, our mosques, our houses, it is impossible."

Its not a simplistic "Get out now" recipe. It is not blind to the danger of jihadi insurgents. It is a realistic way to gradually lessen the violence, reduce our military presence, and give Iraqis a chance to establish their own peace.

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