Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study Group of 2006 on US Congress Vote & Illegal invasion of Iraq .


US President Obama foolishly stated last year that the use of Chemical gas by Syrian forces against rebels , even cannibals and Al Nusra types will be crossing a red line .Now he has proclaimed that Bashar Assad has crossed the line, while all evidence points to its use by the Rebels , as convincingly declared by Putin and Lavrov . Obama has put himself ina bind and after being let down by US poodle UK parliament who have voted against Britain joining USA in another disastrous misadventure, even a catastrophe , he has been forced to go to the US Congress , who did a very shoddy job of diligent inquiry before approving the war in 2002 against Iraq even against UN charter and without UNSC vote .
In March, 2006, a bipartisan Commission, the Iraq Study Group (ISG), was formed to look into the decision and the results with horrible consequences , even for USA and its allies like UK and to salvage something from the bloody Iraqi quagmire. It was a criminal enterprise .Let us see how the Congress votes this time .
K.Gajendra Singh ,3, September, 2013.
The Moving Finger and the Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study Group by K Gajendra Singh                                                   December 19, 2006
The Moving Finger Writes; and, having writ,
 Moves on: nor all your Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all your Tears wash out a Word of it.
 –Omar Khayyam
It took the US Congress 3 years, after the Washington led illegal invasion of Iraq against world opinion, to establish on March 15, 2006, a bipartisan Commission, the Iraq Study Group (ISG), to salvage something from the bloody Iraqi quagmire. There is now a fully fledged civil war with Iraq slipping towards breakup, under US led occupation.
The 10 member Group spent only 4 days in September in Baghdad, under siege like conditions in the fortified Green Zone. ISG found that even now out of 1000 members of the US embassy in Baghdad, only 6 speak Arabic fluently. Fewer than 10 analysts in the Defense Intelligence Agency have more than two years experience of handling insurgency. This highlights the lack of expertise among opinion and decision makers in Washington and the uninformed debate that goes on in US media.
It was on 10 October, 2002 that the US House by a vote of 296-133, and the Senate on 11 October, 2002 by a vote of 77-23, authorized 'Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002 '(Public Law 107-243, 116 Stat. 1497-1502), sought by US President George Bush, which came to be known as "Iraq War Resolution" .It was signed into law by the President on 16, October, 2002. The military invasion in March, 2003 was codenamed 'Operation Iraqi Freedom'.
Did the Congress did a due diligence study before authorizing the Iraq war!
Some parts of the Report alluding to a change of course were leaked before the November elections to soften the edge off Bush's unwavering mantra of  'staying the course' , with the President's approval ratings on the war tumbling to low 30s in US polls and a majority demanding withdrawal of US troops . The swing against President's Republican Party was decisive, giving the Democrats majority both in the House and the Senate.
Four years too late –US objectives by other means 
ISG made its 142 page Report with 79 non-binding recommendations public on 6 December, 2006. The opening sentences - "the situation in Iraq is grave and deteriorating ... there is no path that can guarantee success" – sum up the historic and tragic dilemma.
Judging from the reaction so far of President Bush and suggestions for sending even more troops, it could be more of the same. The former US Secretary of State Colin Powell said on 17 December that America is losing a "civil war" in Iraq and did not believe an increase in the number of US troops there would change the situation. Gen. Powell was the top military commander during the 1991 Gulf War. There appears no serious move yet to talk to Syria or Iran as made clear by Secretary of State Condi Rice.
But after mulling over analyses and comments from government organs and others, Bush has promised to announce 'adjustment 'in tactics ('victory in Iraq' remains the strategic objective) only in early January.
The Report appears to be a red herring.  
US, with the most destructive power in history at its command , still egged on by Neo-Cons ,is not likely to cede its hegemony on the world's primary energy resources easily or let down its allies or even let go its newly constructed bases in Iraq . The war has cost $350 billion, nearly 3000 US soldiers have been killed, over twenty thousand maimed and injured .Yes, the military industry complex and energy interests have done well from the war so far.
An October 2006 study on increased mortality after the 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq, done by an American Medical School and published by the prestigious British medical journal The Lancet estimated that 655,000 more Iraqis had died ("excess deaths") since the invasion than would have died if the prewar rate of death (mortality) had continued.
Of that about 600,000 died from violence. But Bush and US media have tried to trash the study, with President still clinging to 30,000 Iraqis dead, he said in end December, 2005, when queried at a recent White House media meeting. A Congress briefing was organized on 11 December by Rep, Kucinich, with the support of Rep. Ron Paul which more or less confirmed the figures. Similar methodology is used in other wars say in Darfur and for famines.
The US policy might even ignite a veritable Shia- Sunni conflagration in the region, with would be much more far reaching and destructive than the IraqIran war of 1980s. A deep and pervasive historical divide in the Islamic Ummah, which erupts regularly in most Muslim countries, is easy to help light up. Except that in such an event oil output would be throttled which will seriously affect not only the US economy but of the whole world.  
The First World War's victorious colonial powers, Britain and France, divided the spoils from the breakup of the Ottoman Empire in the Middle East, creating new heterogeneous states with arbitrary borders in 1920s to control known and potential oil producing areas, like Kuwait or Kirkuk.  
But in early 21st century, Britain's successor Western power US has only opened a Pandora's Box in the region. It is the regional powers like Iran, Syria ,Turkey and Saudi Arabia , Israel , others and perhaps Egypt who would also play a major part in fashioning the new geography of the region .And most, including those from the outside would be profoundly affected for decades to come. 
History's moving finger having writ, moves on---. It is difficult to fathom what has been written. Soon after the invasion in 2003, the Neo-Cons were boasting that they were writing history. Their capacity for mischief is still there.

The Iraq Study Group Report: The Way Forward - A New Approach! 
Important extracts from the Report, many of the facts have at least been officially and publicly admitted, are as follows;  
'The situation in Iraq is grave and deteriorating, with the Iraqi government unable to advance national reconciliation or provide basic security or deliver essential services. There is great suffering, in the daily lives with little or no improvement. Pessimism is pervasive and the ability of the United States to influence events is diminishing."
"U.S. forces seem to be caught in a mission that has no foreseeable end."
The Iraqi government cannot now govern, sustain, and defend itself without the support of the United States but Iraqis are not convinced to take responsibility for their own future. 'Iraq's neighbors and much of the international community have not been persuaded to play an active and constructive role.'
A collapse of Iraqi government and economy would cripple a country already unable to meet its people's needs, splitting the Iraqi security forces along sectarian lines followed by a humanitarian catastrophe .Ethnic cleansing could escalate. "The Iraqi people could be subjected to another strongman who flexes the political and military muscle required to impose order amid anarchy."
The Report quotes UN estimates that 1.6 million are displaced within Iraq, and up to 1.8 million Iraqis have fled the country. "While the unfolding civil war might sober the Iraqis, this seems implausible because the Iraqi people and their leaders have been slow to demonstrate the capacity or will to act."
The Report recommends that U S should embark on a robust diplomatic effort to establish an international support structure to stabilize Iraq and ease tensions with other countries in the region with an interest in averting a chaotic Iraq, including all of Iraq's neighbors--Iran and Syria among them... 'They all share an interest in avoiding the horrific consequences that would flow from a chaotic Iraq, particularly a humanitarian catastrophe and regional destabilization'
Outside support is needed as Iraq cannot achieve security and national reconciliation on its own.
No unilateral US military action can bring about success in Iraq. But US has national self interest and moral responsibility to avert anarchy set in by its decisions and actions.
In spite of appropriating about $34 billion for the reconstruction of Iraq, International support for Iraq reconstruction has been tepid. US assistance should be increased to $5 billion per year
"Iraq is a major test of, and strain on, U.S. military, diplomatic, and financial capacities. Perceived failure there could diminish America's credibility and influence in a region that is the center of the Islamic world and vital to the world's energy supply."
"The primary mission of U.S. forces in Iraq should evolve to one of supporting the Iraqi army." But US must not make an open ended commitment to keep large numbers of American troops deployed in Iraq."
While the presence of U.S. troops is moderating the violence, long term deployment of U.S. troops is unlikely to usher in fundamental improvements in the security situation... More American troops could worsen the security problem based on the view that the U.S. intends a long-term occupation. The Report also rejected the immediate withdrawal of our troops, because "we believe so much is at stake."
"Given the ability of Iran and Syria to influence events within Iraq and their interest in avoiding chaos in Iraq, the United States should try to engage them constructively . . . The issue of Iran's nuclear programs should continue to be dealt with by the five permanent members of the UNSC plus Germany"
The report states that Iran is happy with the U.S. military tied down in Iraq, which limits U.S. options in addressing Iran's nuclear program '' "The regional influence of Iran could rise at a time when that country is on a path to producing nuclear weapons"
"Our limited contacts with Iran's government lead us to believe that its leaders are likely to say they will not participate in diplomatic efforts to support stability in Iraq . . . Nevertheless, as one of Iraq's neighbors Iran should be asked to assume its responsibility to participate in the Support Group."
The Syrians allow arms and foreign fighters into Iraq, and former Ba'athist leaders find a safe haven in Syria. Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states have remained passive and disengaged and declined to provide debt relief or substantial economic assistance to the Iraqi government.
The US should initiate a diplomatic dialogue involving regional states including Syria and Iran.
"The United States cannot achieve its goals in the Middle East unless it deals directly with the Arab-Israeli conflict and regional instability. There must be a renewed and sustained commitment by the United States to a comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace on all fronts . . . [including] direct talks with, by, and between Israel, Lebanon, Palestinians (those who accept Israel's right to exist), and Syria."
The composition of the Iraqi government is basically sectarian with key players too often promoting their sectarian interests. "The security situation cannot improve unless leaders act in support of national reconciliation. Shiite leaders must make the decision to demobilize militias. Sunni Arabs must make the decision to seek their aims through a peaceful political process, not through violent revolt. The Iraqi government and Sunni Arab tribes must aggressively pursue al Qaeda."
The Iraqi government has failed to provide the basic services: electricity, drinking water, sewage, health care, and education, with level in many sectors below to prewar levels. In Baghdad and other unstable areas, the situation is much worse.
If Iraq's leaders cannot achieve specific milestones i.e. on national reconciliation, security, and governance to deserve continued support, the United States should reduce its political, military, or economic support for the Iraqi government but without setting timetables or deadlines for withdrawal.
The report admits the profound problems in the Iraqi police and criminal justice system which are profound, with the U.S. training mission hindered by a lack of clarity and capacity.
"Significant questions remain about the ethnic composition and loyalties of some Iraqi units--specifically, whether they will carry out missions on behalf of national goals instead of a sectarian agenda . . . Units lack leadership . . . equipment . . . personnel . . . logistics and support."  The Iraqi police are substantially in worse situation than the Iraqi Army, unable to control crime. They routinely engage in sectarian violence, including the unnecessary detention, torture and targeted execution of Sunni Arab civilians.
Al-Qaeda is now a franchise in Iraq, like McDonald's but Al Qaeda is responsible for a small portion of the violence that includes some spectacular acts . . . "Al Qaeda in Iraq is now largely Iraqi-run and composed of Sunni Arabs. Foreign fighters--numbering an estimated 1,300--play a supporting role or carry out suicide operations."
The prevalence of militias sends a powerful message: political leaders can preserve and expand their power only if backed by armed force. The Mahdi Army . . . may number as many as 60,000 fighters." The Shia, the majority of Iraq's population, has gained power for the first time in more than 1,300 years. While "Sunni Arabs feel displaced because of the loss of their traditional position of power in Iraq." But the Iraqi Kurds have succeeded in presenting a united front of two main political blocs -- the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK).
A shift in the United States policy from direct military role i.e. US support will depend on the Iraqi government meeting periodic benchmarks towards "national reconciliation"
The Report recommends that the US mission in Iraq shift from a direct military action to a "supporting role "i.e., speeding the training of Iraqi forces and embedding of US officers and military personnel with Iraqi units.
The embedding of US officers in Iraqi units would only reinforce public perceptions that the Iraqi army/police are not sovereign. The dilemma is that the Iraqi forces have not been allowed to buy tanks or helicopters as they are not trusted.
The government of Iraqi has little sovereignty or authority - the bulk of its members, many exiles in the West or Iran and elsewhere, some US and British intelligence assets, now mostly live either abroad or as permanent residents in Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone. Furthermore, the very structure of the government planned under US direction is one of enforced sectarianism, where state bureaucracies have become the fiefdoms of competing militias. The Iraqi government, as it currently stands, is a pastiche of sectarian interests, whose survival depends exclusively on US support: it therefore lacks the will or the way to initiate a program of "national reconciliation".
ISG Elephant and the blind men; 
The reaction to ISG report of various leaders and groups directly and indirectly involved and affected are like of the seven blind men , each describing the elephant based on the anatomy of the animal he could feel i.e. how the recommendations would affect them  .Here are some of them;
US Polls:
Majority of Americans in a recent CBS News survey doubt if U.S. can win in Iraq with 62% calling the war in Iraq a mistake. Still 43% said the U.S. should keep fighting, but with new tactics, while 50 percent said the U.S. should begin to end its involvement altogether. Only 4 percent say the U.S. should keep fighting as it is doing now. Just 21 percent approve of President Bush's handling of the war, the lowest number. While 46 percent -- think Bush will seriously consider the bipartisan panel's recommendations, 43 percent think he will not.
The New York Times;
Seeing Bush's negative reaction to the Report, 'The New York Times '(which mostly cheer led the war and did not live up to the ethics of journalism) chided Bush in an editorial for not taking the cover the report provided for the White House to chart a "graceful exit" of American troops, " Iraq is so far gone that nobody expected the panel to come up with a breakthrough solution." "The study was never going to change the basic facts: there is no victory to be had in Iraq, and however American troops withdraw, they will leave behind a deadly mess."
"Its real mission was to avert the worst scenario, in which a stubborn George W. Bush spends the next two years blindly insisting he will accept nothing short of victory, while Iraq keeps spiraling out of control -- That is a recipe for years more of savagery, a spillover of terrorism and instability across the Middle East, more sacrifice of American soldiers and more cynicism and division among the American people. Avoiding it is not the same as winning the war, but it is a way to cut one's losses. "
"Make no mistake, the report is a stunning indictment of Mr. Bush's failure - in Iraq and no less in Washington. --. Predictably, the first reaction of Tony Snow, the White House spokesman, was to insist that "there is nothing in here about pulling back militarily."—" The world has watched as Mr. Bush painted himself into a corner and then insisted it was a strategic decision. Even the Iraqis are trying to provide cover to for him to come tiptoeing back to the real world. "
"It is, all in all, exactly the kind of shades-of-gray thinking that Mr. Bush despises, and exactly what he needs to get the country out of the hole he has dug."
The US Congress;
Moderate Republicans have taken the party's thumping defeat seriously. "To ignore the message sent in the last election is to do so at our political peril, because the message was a resounding repudiation of the status quo with respect to Iraq," said Senator Olympia J. Snow, the moderate Republican from Maine. "The American people are essentially unified in their intense dissatisfaction with the way things have progressed in Iraq." But many of the new Democrat entrants are from the right wing. Soon the two parties would get embroiled on how to win the White House.
American Obsession with 'Victory'
Richard Perle, a prominent Neo-Con and early advocate of the war, dismissed the ISG as a "misadventure" that should be ignored." You don't outsource the responsibilities of the commander in chief," Perle said. "The whole thing is absurd." Limbaugh, another Neo-Con and popular radio talk host said the commission was peopled with out-of-touch weaklings."You know, bipartisanship simply means Republicans cave on their core principles and agree with Democrats," Limbaugh said on his radio program. "That's why everybody is praising the stupid report. Because there's nothing in this about winning, there's nothing in this about victory. There isn't anything in this about moving forward in a positive way. This is cut and run, surrender --."
Representative (R) Duncan Hunter, the outgoing Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee and a 2008 presidential hopeful, said, "The policy-making decisions about Iraq should not be considered to be devolving to a non-elected group put together essentially for the purpose of advising the president."
Right wing 'Wall Street Journal' called the Report "a bipartisan strategic muddle ginned up for domestic political purposes," and welcomed the increase of embedded American trainers with Iraqi military units. It opposed the recommendation to involve Iran and Syria to resolve the problems.
Bill Kristol, the Neo-Con editor of The Weekly Standard and another cheer leader for the War, said: "In the real world, the Baker report is now the vehicle for those Republicans who want to extricate themselves from Iraq, while McCain is articulating the strategy for victory in Iraq. Bush will have to choose, and the Republican Party will have to choose, in the very near future between Baker and McCain."
John McCain of Arizona, a leading Republican presidential candidate rejected the recommendations as they did not present a formula for victory. He asked for an immediate increase in US troops to crush the insurgency and bring Baghdad to order.
'The Age of Fallibility: Consequences of the War on Terror;
 "And probably the worst problem [in US] of all is that the legislative branch that is supposed to keep the executive in check has been bought off. The legislators are completely co-opted by the Washington money and power game. Getting re-elected is what the vast majority live for, "says George Soros, who made his billions of dollars in the US market place and founded the "Open Society Institute'.
In his book 'The Age of Fallibility: Consequences of the War on Terror "he attributes the current US malaise to the unwillingness to confront difficult issues in a political process driven by the principles of consumerism. It is this combination whereby people are coaxed into settling for simple answers to difficult questions. "It's almost as if people are clamoring to be deceived and the American public has shown a remarkable indifference to being deceived." He adds that, "In a democracy it is the electorate that has to keep the politicians and the political operatives honest. That is where America is failing."
"The media merely [serve] the market," Soros says. The role of a free and independent press is one of the cornerstones of US democracy. Like other cornerstones, it has been so badly eroded that the entire edifice is in jeopardy."  
Iraqi leaders;
President Bush has developed Iraqi constituencies and political allies. He has already picked his horses and they are Shias .He met the two leading Shia politicians in the week just prior to the Report's release, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq party chief Abdul Aziz al-Hakim and acquainted them the Report's key proposals. For the time being the Shia leaders need Bush and the President has no alternative. But do they trust each other!
Muqtada al-Sadr
Young Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr , who fought US forces twice and is fiercely opposed to foreign troops in Iraq, said that the report  was designed to "divide and finish us." He is also opposed to the loose federal system, which could lead to Iraq's break up. He asked Premier al-Maliki not to meet with Bush in Amman. Muqtada controls 30 members in the Parliament and has 5 cabinet ministers.  The government needs his support to survive .Following the Amman meeting, his party shall boycott the government and the Parliament until a timetable was announced for the withdrawal of U.S.-led coalition troops from Iraq.
In a statement, Al-Sadr said the al-Maliki's government has no right to have sought the U.N. Security Council's recent renewal of the mandate of the multinational forces in Iraq without reference to the 275-seat parliament. He also criticized the Iraqi government's reported contacts with leaders of Saddam Hussein's outlawed Ba'ath party for national reconciliation.
In any case a reconciliation meeting called a few days ago in the Green Zone was a failure.
The Kurds;
The strongest opposition was expressed by the Iraqi President Jalal Talabani .He said that the Report's suggestions were "the wrong medicine for the wrong diagnosis" and described them as unwarranted interference in Iraq's internal affairs. "As far as I am concerned it is dead in the water," he added. The calls for US sanctions against the Iraqi government if it failed to meet a timeline for a series of milestones were "an insult".
The Report has suggested withdrawal of US troops by 2008, and increase the number of US soldiers embedded with the Iraqi army from 3,000-4,000 currently to 10,000-20,000.
Talabani said: "They want to embed thousands more US army officers in Iraqi army units from small squadrons to whole divisions. If our army became a tool in the hands of foreign officers, what would that say about Iraqi sovereignty?
"We have many former Iraqi army officers, good patriotic professional army men who were against Saddam Hussein. Why can't we bring those people to the army, to help train and develop and lead?"
While grateful for the removal of Saddam Hussein, Talabani, himself a former militia leader, criticized the US training efforts, "It has gone from failure to failure. Look at the police force they gathered from the street, regardless of their loyalty to the new regime, their capacity, or their ability. These mistakes will be repeated if we allow them inside the army."
Talabani insisted that decisions on Iraq's defense strategy and its internal security forces should not be taken by "outside forces". "Iraqis are the ones who daily bear the brunt of the terrorist groups' activities and we should be the ones who decide how to fight them," he said. "We want to achieve this by working as partners while the multinational forces remain in Iraq, and not simply follow their orders. At the moment our hands are crippled."
Talabani argued that violence in Baghdad could be controlled if the Iraqi government had a 'free hand to exercise its proper authority.' "We can smell the attitude of James Baker in 1991 when he liberated Kuwait but left Saddam in power," he concluded,
Massoud Barzani, the other Kurdish leader and Head of the Iraqi Kurdistan government said in a signed statement that the Report has "made some unrealistic and inappropriate recommendations under the pretext that they are going to get the US out of the current crisis in Iraq."

"If under this pretext they want to impose their inappropriate recommendations on us, then on behalf of the people of Kurdistan, we announce this report is against the constitution and interests of Iraq and Kurdistan and we will not accept it." Barzani added that the Iraq's Kurds were not committed to the report "in any way".
The Report also points out that 61% of Iraqis approve of attacks on US and British forces. Assuming  that the Kurds (who form around 20% of the population) , who have been under US protection since the end of 1991 war , oppose such attacks, and Arab Sunnis (who also form about 20% of the population) support them, this means that two-thirds of Iraq's Shias also support the attacks.
The author had interacted with a score of Iraqi diplomats under training in India in early 2004.They told him that Americans had little understanding of Iraq .Iraqis would watch and wait for some time and then take appropriate action.
Syria's Role;
On Syria's role Baker said, ``There is a strong indication they [Syria & Iran] would be in a position to help us and might want to help us.''
The initial response from Syria has been positive. Speaking at a conference in Damascus, Syria's Vice President Farouq al-Sharaa said, ``The two countries are Iraq's neighbors, and without getting them involved it will not be easy to find a solution to the predicament in Iraq.'' He added that ``We are not so arrogant to say that Syria and Iran can solve Iraq's problem . . . The entire international community may not be able to solve it. But let them (the Americans) be a little bit modest and accept whoever has the capability to help.'
It has been suggested that Israel restore to Syria the Golan Heights, Tel Aviv captured in 1967 war, as a price to obtain Damascus's help. "Settling the dispute between Israel and its Arab neighbors, the commission argues, is necessary to the achievement of genuine stability in the region, including Iraq."  
On renewed efforts by the United States for an Arab-Israeli peace , Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of Israel blandly rejected the attempts to link the Iraq issue with the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.
Dr Imad Fawzi al-Shu'aybi , Director of the Center for Strategic Data and Studies, in Damascus,
said that "the Americans now know that they should start talking to Syria. They admit, according to what James Baker and Hamilton said in the press conference, that there can be no solution without dialogue with Syria and Iran."

On Baker's remarks that Syria would accept dialogue with the United States and might also accept to meet US demands in return for this dialogue, Al-Shu'aybi said: "I agree with you on the first part. Syria will accept dialogue because it calls for dialogue. But definitely, and in my opinion and based on my knowledge of the Syrian policy, I can say that the Syrians will never accept the policy of concessions and demands. Since the fall of Baghdad, Syria has been facing demands and experienced the so-called 2005 adversity. Yet, it did not respond to demands since they were a continuous series of concessions, which never stopped."
President Bashar Assad's father late Hafez Assad was ready to negotiate a peace treaty with Israel in exchange for the Golan heights when approached by Bill Clinton .But after initially agreeing, Israeli Prime minister Ehud Barak faced with opposition at home got cold feet .Then the whole proposal and its contours were distorted by Israeli/Jewish influenced and controlled US and western media.
It is a fact of life that if a US politician says anything against Israel , the Israeli/Jewish agencies mount a propaganda campaign against him and with their money and media muscle assure his defeat .Even the role of Jewish Lobby in US can not be rationally discussed in USA .It is a sad commentary on the US's pretensions as a democracy. It is ally tail that wags the dog.
Iran's reaction;
Speaking to the diplomatic and security officials from the Persian Gulf and the West at a meeting organized by the International Institute for Strategic Studies, Iran's Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said that Iran was open to dialogue but blamed the Americans for "50 percent" of Iraq's violence.
"The Islamic republic of Iran, in case the U.S. changes its attitude, is ready to help the administration to withdraw its troops from Iraq," Mottaki said. He then added, "The time of threats is over; the period of unilateralism is over." Mottaki was perhaps posturing and also to put Iran's Arab neighbors at ease about the chances of a confrontation between Iran and the United States.
A senior US official commented off record that "They (Iranians) don't want to appear to be begging for a dialogue when we don't seem too eager in doing so ourselves. But they do seem pretty confident that things are going their way." 
In Tehran, Muhammad Ali Muhtadi, expert at the Middle East Studies Center, commenting on the US Iran dialogue to resolve the Iraqi crisis, said that the Iranian role in the region could not be ignored. He added that "no one in Iran is against dialogue, in principle. However, there is much skepticism in Tehran regarding the United States' credibility and intentions as it announces something and does something else. I fear that the Baker-Hamilton Commission's report is part of a new US scenario in the region to rid of the Iraqi crisis."
On a dialogue with Iraq neighbors, Dr Hasan Kuni, a former Turkish national security adviser said in Istanbul that this recommendation is "a little bit late." Turkey, in order to resolve the northern Iraq problem, has already started talking to Syria and Iraq almost one year ago (publicly opposed by USA). The Americans and the Israeli circles in Washington were blaming Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan for making contacts with the Syrians and the Iranians. Now, a year later, they tell us they want to do the same. Whether it is late or early, this is a good start, if they really want to resolve problems on the regional level. They should start doing that now. Noting that the US forces would remain in Iraq until 2008 and after that to train the Iraqi forces to fight against other Iraqis, he said that this would not solve any problem in Iraq and there would be more fighting and further loss of lives.
Following the Iraq war, Nato Allies US and Turkey have drifted apart, with a sea change in Ankara's policies which has made up with historical enemies like Russia, Iran and Syria .Turkey refused to join in the 2003 invasion and worries about activities of Turkeys' Kurdish PKK rebel cadres, now ensconced in north Iraq, about which USA has done pretty little. Serious strains occurred in 2004 , when Turkey realized that Israel , it's almost ally in the region , was training Peshmarga guerillas in Iraqi Kurdistan .There is little agreement between US and Ankara on the policy in Iraq, especially in Iraqi Kurdistan. Recently Ankara protested at the US proposal to send US troops to Iraqi Kurdistan, which Turkey feels is quite peaceful since US-UK provided protection from 1991.
With a million well trained armed men, Turkey would play a major role in the end game in Iraq .It has declared opposition to an independent Kurdistan in north Iraq, on which it laid historic claims. Ankara would coordinate its policies on north Iraq with Iran, which also has a Kurdish population, as well as with Syria, also with some Kurds.
OIC and Arab League;
The Report recommends that the US and the Iraqi government support the holding of a conference or meeting of the Organization of the Islamic Conference or the Arab League. The Arab League is mostly made up of Sunni Arab states with an uneasy relationship with the new Iraqi government, dominated by Shiites and Kurds. The Iraqi Sunni Arabs are supported by a majority of Iraq's neighbors, especially Saudi Arabia, Jordan and even Egypt. If not the government but many Saudis are helping Sunnis in Iraq. A former Security Saudi expert even wrote a column in US media that Saudi Arabia would help Sunni Arabs in Iraq to counter Iran in case USA withdrew its troops from Iraq.
In Cairo the Arab League called for a regional conference within 4 months in order to resolve the Iraq crisis. It also called on the Iraqi government to dissolve all militias, and to curb Iranian interference in the country.
Urayb al-Rantawi, Director of Jerusalem Center for Studies, in Amman commented on the recommendations that the Iraqi Government should assume a bigger responsibility to end violence and whether these recommendations constitute some sort of pressure on the Iraqi Government, "Undoubtedly, there is a message in this report to Al-Maliki Government or any other Iraqi government that may be formed in the future."

"However, to blame the Iraqi governments, which were formed after the occupation, for the deterioration of the conditions in Iraq is, I believe, another manifestation of the US failure in Iraq. As stated, the report used the expression success instead of victory, but success is a soft diplomatic expression for the US failure in Iraq. The United States is looking for scapegoats to blame for the failure of its scheme in Iraq."

He noted that the Shia Badr and Al-Sadr militias were committing "murder against civilians."  "These militias are represented in this government, and Al-Maliki government continues to be in office with the parliamentary majority of these militias. They are part of the problem, and not part of the solution. It is time to put things right and to clarify matters,' he added.
Suggestions and Comments;
President Bush is now a dead lame duck. The ISG is an attempt by Papa Bush, former US President and his friends to help out and salvage errant son's discredited Presidency and, the power, standing and credibility of the United States .After the regime change in Iraq, Blair is just hanging on to the post while the Spanish, the Portuguese and the Italian leaders who supported Bush lost elections and power.
For a solution to the Iraqi problem , there are so many elements in the words of Rumsfeld , known known's, known unknowns and unknown unknowns , that it would be like resolving a political, economic, ethnic, strategic Rubik cube with myriad squares.
Fundamentally, the failure and bankruptcy of US policies in Iraq has left Washington with little authority or credibility .Its continued presence merely reinforces sectarian violence and social disorder. "The rhetoric of diplomatic engagement and resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict may be encouraging, but it is doubtful that any substantive action will proceed on that front. Ultimately, "national reconciliation" and social reconstruction cannot move forward in the presence of US coercion and violence."
Lt. Gen. (Ret.) William E. Odom, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and a professor at Yale University wrote in end October, 2006 that the US has upset the regional balance in the Middle East by invading Iraq. "Restoring it requires bold initiatives, but "cutting and running" must precede them all. Only a complete withdrawal of all U.S. troops — within six months and with no preconditions — can break the paralysis that now enfeebles our diplomacy. And the greatest obstacles to cutting and running are the psychological inhibitions of our leaders and the public."

"Our leaders do not act because their reputations are at stake. The public does not force them to act because it is blinded by the president's conjured set of illusions: that we are reducing terrorism by fighting in Iraq; creating democracy there; preventing the spread of nuclear weapons; making Israel more secure; not allowing our fallen soldiers to have died in vain; and others."
He added that it was beyond U.S. power to prevent bloody sectarian violence in Iraq, the growing influence of Iran throughout the region, the probable spread of Sunni-Shiite strife to neighboring Arab states, the eventual rise to power of the anti-American cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr or some other anti-American leader in Baghdad, and the spread of instability beyond Iraq. All of these things and more became unavoidable the day that the U.S. forces invaded.

"These realities get worse every day that our forces remain in Iraq. They can't be wished away by clever diplomacy or by leaving our forces in Iraq for several more years."
He suggests that real progress must be made on the Palestinian issue as a foundation for Middle East peace. The invasion of Iraq and the U.S. tilt toward Israel have dangerously reduced Washington's power to broker peace or to guarantee Israel's security. " We must cut and run tactically in order to succeed strategically. The United States needs to restore its reputation so that its capacity to lead constructively will cost us less."
As Michael Schwartz and other experts have noted the Report is not about the Bush administration to abandon its goal of creating a client regime and establishing the U.S. as the dominant power in the Middle East. It states: "We agree with the goal of U.S. policy in Iraq." If you ignore the text sprinkled with sugar-coated words like "representative government," the report essentially demands that the Iraqi government pursue policies shaped to serve "America's interest and values in the years ahead."
Don't be taken in by the often quoted passage: "By the first quarter of 2008, subject to unexpected developments in the security situation on the ground, all combat brigades not necessary for force protection could be out of Iraq."
The Report wants those "withdrawn" American troops "redeployed," either inside or outside Iraq. "In all likelihood, this will mean that at least some of them will be stationed in the 5 permanent bases inside Iraq that the Bush administration has already spent billions constructing, and which are small self sufficient American towns " Other places to redeploy troops in the region, except for the bases in Kuwait, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates are really not suited , or perhaps eager to, host a large influx of American troops (guaranteed to be locally unpopular and a magnet for terrorist attacks)."
". Given that American troops have not been able to subdue the Sunni rebellion, which is still on a growth curve, it is highly unlikely that their Iraqi substitutes will do any better. So, the ISG report contemplates -- best case scenario -- "a considerable military presence in the region, with our still significant [at least 70,000 strong] force in Iraq, and with our powerful air, ground, and naval deployments in Kuwait, Bahrain, and Qatar…"
In their letter of transmittal, ISG co-chairs James Baker and Lee Hamilton so declared:
"All options have not been exhausted. We believe it is still possible to pursue different policies that can give Iraq an opportunity for a better future, combat terrorism, stabilize a critical region of the world and protect America's credibility, interests and values."
Even as the group called on the President to declare that the U.S. "does not seek permanent military bases in Iraq" once the country is secure, it immediately hedged this intention by pointing out that we "could consider" temporary bases, "if the Iraqi government were to request it." Germany still has US bases.
The Report is not an "exit strategy;" it is a new plan for achieving the Bush administration's imperial goals in the Middle East," concludes Schwartz.
K Gajendra Singh, Indian ambassador (retired), served as ambassador to Turkey and Azerbaijan from August 1992 to April 1996. Prior to that, he served terms as ambassador to Jordan, Romania and Senegal. He is currently chairman of the Foundation for Indo-Turkic Studies. Copy right with the author. E-mail: Gajendrak@hotmail.com.