[...] the leader of the – banned – Ba'th party, and Saddam’s henchman, 'Izzat al-Duri, is considering striking a deal with the US occupational forces and the Iraqi government, which would involve putting a stop to operations against the US Army in Iraq and Iraqi government forces.He's also offering to fight Qaeda in Iraq.
Ah, popularity! Isn't it grand? You know what's happening to us? Americans have invested so much blood, sweat, and money in Iraq that we're being accepted as an another Iraqi tribe, from the viewpoint of many Iraqis. So now it's okay to enter into negotiations with us.
Amer's summary of today's Iraqi press reports also carries hopeful news on the Syria front. In asking Syria for help with security, Maliki is following a course of offering economic incentives, which Pundita has been recommending. He negotiated several deals with the Syrian government during his three-day visit with Assad, including
[...] an agreement to re-open the Kirkuk-Banias oil pipeline, which allows Iraqi oil produced in the North to be exported from the Syrian port on the Mediterranean. Al-Hayat saw the agreement as part of a “barter” proposed to Syria by Maliki: “security for the economy.” The paper said that Maliki is promising to launch a host of lucrative economic deals with Syria in exchange for heightened Syrian cooperation with Iraq in the security dossier.We'll see now if Damascus thinks the pot is sweet enough. If not, the US needs to get creative with economic incentives. Reopening the pipeline is sweet for Syria; they lost hundreds of millions of dollars a year when the US bombed the pipeline in 2003. And I assume it's not yet fully operational; if that's the case, maybe the reconstruction the US can fund for Syria is the pipeline.
Pundita doesn't want letters asking, "What about the Golan?" Yes, I understand the situation. However, the better off Syria is economically, the less they will have to depend on Tehran, which means the less they will have to toe Tehran's line.
And I think Assad has seen enough war in his neighborhood in the past few years to want to think twice about going to war with Israel.
Assad is also very useful to the United States right now because he's pressuring Maliki to reform the de-Baathification law in Iraq. Getting that law toned down is a key step to tamping down the Iraq insurgency.
Assad has indeed signed a joint security pact with Maliki, which we discussed recently. But it seems Assad is making the greatest cooperation contingent on the de-Baathification issue in Iraq. So that's a lot of pressure on Baghdad. With all this going on, it's vital for US politicians to put on hold moves that threaten any sanctions against Syria. Just put on the lid for the time being.
There will be additional Pundita posts today; I'm just not sure when.