The Opening Gambits
As the Surge was being considered early in 2007, the advice of those representing themselves as foreign policy "adults" was to "engage" Iran. Iran would pull America's irons out of the fire. It would guarantee an orderly exit. Every meeting with the Teheran was hailed as a triumph of reason. Today the Iranians have described their plan for a stable Iraq. AFP reports:
Iran on Monday said it had drawn up a plan to restore stability to Iraq, including suggestions for the expulsion of private security firms and the integration of militias into the security forces.
Foreign ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini said Iranian diplomats had proposed the plan at a weekend conference in Istanbul on Iraqi security. But this was the first time its details had been made public.
According to Hosseini, the plan emphasises the necessity for driving armed militant groups out of Iraq, and also for expelling the various private security firms working there.
"Particularly Blackwater," said Hosseini, referring to the US firm whose guards were involved in a shooting incident September 16 in Baghdad that left 17 Iraqis dead.
The plan also proposes the integration of some militia groups into the security forces. However there was no mention of any names such as the Mehdi Army of militant Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. "All the militias who have not cooperated with any organised terrorist groups should be forgiven and give up their arms. The government of Iraq should make use of some of them in the military and the police," Hosseini said.
It's interesting to speculate on whether the Hosseini's proposal would have been different without the Surge. Although the details described in the AFP report are too vague to be fully analyzed, the emphasis on "driving armed militant groups out of Iraq" and the proviso to allow only "the militias who have not cooperated with any organised terrorist groups" sounds tantalizingly like an Iranian concession. It's also interesting to wonder whether the expulsion of Blackwater would have made the list of Iranian demands at all without recent publicity.
However that may be, the publication of the Iranian demands provides a datapoint against which future Iranian positions can be compared. As the security operations in Iraq proceed it will be enlightening to see how the Iranian position subsequently shifts, if at all.