Former diplomat Richard Holbrook, candidate for secretary of state if Hillary Clinton is elected president, toured Iraq and some Gulf emirates last week.
He and his party managed to keep their visits under close wraps.
DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s Gulf sources reveal that in Baghdad, President Bill Clinton’s former envoy explained to high Iraqi officials that none of the Democratic hopefuls, including Clinton, would order a total American military withdrawal from Iraq if elected at the end of next year.
American troops would be pulled out of the big towns, but hold fast to the big air bases, Talil, Balad, H4, and a string of facilities, especially in central and northern Iraq and Kurdistan.
Indeed there was little to choose between Holbriook’s presentation and the military plan brought to Baghdad by defense secretary Robert Gates last April. (DEBKA-Net-Weekly 298 of April 27 outlined that program in detail under the title: US Army in Iraq; Scaled down in Summer 2007, Regrouped for Long Stay)
The former diplomat was given an answer to take back to Democratic leaders in Washington. It was handed to members of his team by a group of Sunni Muslim leaders and consisted of seven points drafted carefully over the signature of a a Sunni Arab group called the Islamic Army Organization.
This is the first time a Sunni insurgent groups has been known to write a letter to the US Democratic Party.
Remember, the Iranian border is open both ways
DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s sources disclose those seven points:
- George Bush’s Iraq strategy is unrealistic.
- His administration’s missteps, military blunders and errors in managing Iraq’s oil resources have paved the way for Iran to gain influence and positions of strength.
- A Democratic president if elected must enact legislation for evacuating the American army from Iraq, if insurgent groups like the Islamic Army are to stop attacking American soldiers. It is no good passing a token resolution; the law must specify which sections of the US army will withdraw from which parts of the country and on what dates.
- Don’t look for a saving gesture or assistance from any of the Arab governments. They are impotent.
- The US must abandon its illusions and cease acting on the fallacious conviction that Shiite Muslims are the majority community of Iraq. This is not true. Sunni Moslems hold the majority and, sooner or later, will recover their control of government.
- DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s sources interpret this proposition as indicating that the Iraq’s Sunni Arabs who penned the communication are working on the assumption that Sunni Arabs and Sunni Muslim Kurds (who are the majority of that community) will unite against Shiite domination of Iraq.
- It is high time for American policy-makers to recognize that the real obstacles to US military attainments in Iraq were the Sunni Arabs – not the Shiites.
- This is to remind Washington that the Iranian-Iraqi border has two sides: If it is open to smuggling from Iran, it is equally open for Iraqi Sunnis to head in the opposite direction into Iran.
This is the first time that an Iraqi Sunni insurgent group has put before any American body the option of carrying Iraq’s sectarian conflict across the border and going to war against Iran.