National Reconciliation is Impossible, Say Iraqi Leaders

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National reconciliation? What national reconciliation?

After months of hearing from everyone from General Petraeus to President Bush that the ultimate goal in Iraq is reconciliation of the country’s three religious sects, we hear from high-level Iraqi politicians that national reconciliation is impossible and most decidedly not one of their objectives.

“I don’t think there is something called reconciliation, and there will be no reconciliation as such,” said Deputy Prime Minister Barham Salih, a Kurd. “To me, it is a very inaccurate term. This is a struggle about power.”

Humam Hamoudi, a prominent Shiite cleric and parliament member, said any future reconciliation would emerge naturally from an efficient, fair government, not through short-term political engineering among Sunnis and Shiites.

“Reconciliation should be a result and not a goal by itself,” he said. “You should create the atmosphere for correct relationships, and not wave slogans that ‘I want to reconcile with you.'”

You can read more at the Washington Post.

If you’re wondering, yes, national reconciliation was the point of the surge. President Bush has said, “[The surge] is aimed at helping the Iraqis strengthen their government so that it can function even amid violence. It seeks to open space for Iraq’s political leaders to advance the difficult process of national reconciliation, which is essential to lasting security and stability.

Update: Joe Klein at Swampland points out that even the administration admits there is no military victory to be had in Iraq; it is a war that must be won by Iraq’s politicians. Considering their unwillingness to come together, Klein wonders what the point of our continued commitment is.

So remind me again, what’s the mission at this point? I mean, seriously: What specifically are the metrics of success? What is the military goal–if not providing the space for reconciliation? What is the political side of the plan? This seems like basic stuff, but we haven’t heard it from the Administration. This sort of strategic focus has to come from higher than Petraeus- and Crocker-level operatives. The incompetence, the lack of rigor is mind-boggling.

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