I have been reading DebkaFile’s private email reports lately and, especially if you are planning on writing spy stories, they seem to be worth the price of admission. This week they take us inside the Iraqi electoral campaign where negotiations are being conducted to get the Sunnis to the polls for reasons that should be obvious. Toward this end, two staggered election days are possible, should violence be too great in some parts of the country, with special guarantees being made to the Sunnis that they will have a decent percentage of the assembly seats in the end. Who said democracy building would be simple? [Paul Wolfowitz.-ed. Right. How could I forget?]
At the center of this is Ambassador John Negroponte who is getting high marks from all sides for his diplomatic skills. But Bush himself is involved. And a hurried visit to Washington was reportedly made by Jordan’s King Abdullah to keep our administration talking when Sunnis seemed to be balking.
Behind all this, according to Debka, is the surprisingly sudden beginning of the war crimes trials. Baathists were concerned that if they came back into the government, this would be followed by show trials of their old cronies (Saddam, et al). Who cares, right? Well, a lot of Iraqis do (Sunnis obviously). This is realpolitik as practiced in the ME. The idea, again according to Debka, is that the trials would start now to demonstrate to the tribal leaders that Allawi & Co. have cojones and then be postponed after the election so that a government with Shiites, Kurds and Sunnis could co-exist. Got that? [I guess.-ed.]
BTW, also via Debka, Saddam’s daughter Raghad has been offered an assembly seat. She declined. (Oh, well, maybe it’s not so reliable. I report. You decide, come si dice.)