Insomnia (insomnia) wrote,

Najaf, negotiations, and no end in sight.

First things first... the reason that Najaf is being attacked right now is because the Iraqi interim government refused to honor the peace terms that Sadr accepted from the Iraqi National Conference. The interim government ignored the conference -- whose sole purpose, incidentally, is to have oversight and veto power over the interim government -- and issued numerous new conditions on top of the conference's peace plan. They also waived the previously agreed-upon promise of amnesty. Listen to this NPR story for full details on this.

And so, numerous U.S. soldiers and hundreds of Iraqis on both sides are going to die. Earlier today, the Sadrists got revenge on their previous "dueling partners" the Najaf police, in a mortar attack that killed 8 of them and wounded another 31. Scratch one police force. That they successfully executed this attack while "surrounded" and under attack from U.S. forces is pretty impressive. After the attack, Iraqi police raided a local hotel where foreign journalists were staying, claiming they suspected some of the reporters helped the attackers locate the police station. Yes, more angry abuse of the media in Najaf... as if they're responsible for this clusterfuck.

As for negotiations, this site on the subject of surrender is interesting, although given the current predicament in Najaf, it seems like a relic of the "good old days", if such days ever applied to war.

I particularly appreciated this bit:
"The popular impression that, for example, a besieger may summon a city or fortress to surrender and declare that no quarter will be given if it is taken by storm, is quite wrong and reflects the comparative savagery of earlier days, especially of the religious wars from the Crusades through the Thirty Years' War, as did the former rules that quarter could be refused to a weak garrison that obstinately and pointlessly persisted in defending a fortified place..."

Comparative savagery of the Crusades, eh?! I wonder what Allawi would think of that? He's not viewed very favorably anywhere right now, even in Great Britain, where Tony Blair has dropped his plans to invite him.

Contrary to what the Iraqi defense minister says, if Sadr wants to negotiate terms, he should be able to do so by sending someone out under a white flag, *any time he wants*. Unconditional surrender may be demanded, but that is ultimately what the conditional government is offering anyway.

"Surrender . . . may be unconditional . . . or upon terms . . . A surrender upon terms naturally follows upon negotiations, customarily initiated by sending out a party under a white flag."

Whether Sadr will be granted that right -- or will even need it -- remains to be seen. Alex Berenson of The New York Times recently visited Sadr's forces and says that "the mood in the shrine is not one of resignation... morale is quite high amongst Sadr's fighters . . . who have a *VERY* good defensive position . . . The Iraqi Defense Minister can talk all he likes about how it will be Iraqi forces that fight their way to the shrine but from a practical point of view, that's simply impossible."

And so, people die white we all wait. It might be a long wait too.

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