What Makes Bush Upbeat about a US Victory in Iraq?

The speech US President George W. Bush makes Tuesday, June 28, at the elite 82nd Airborne Division’s home at Fort Bragg, N.C. is fraught with symbolism. The venue is the home base of the division that has born the brunt of the two-and-a half year Iraq war. The date is the first anniversary of the transfer of post-Saddam government to Iraqi sovereignty. One year ago, US administrator Paul Bremer handed the keys of government to interim prime minister Iyad Allawi amid high hopes of a new Iraq.
Allawi remains Washington’s key man in Baghdad, even after the January general election produced a new administration headed by prime minister Ibrahim Jaafari and president Jalal Talabani. The Bush administration is counting on him heavily to eventually find a way out of the Iraqi insurgency and its supportive Arab terror campaign and put an end to guerrilla-terror war that has claimed 1,715 Americans lives and left an Iraqi death toll estimated in tens of thousands. Since the incumbent government took office in April, more than 1000 have been killed, most of them Iraqis.
But as Bush assures Americans that their country will win the war, Allawi, according to debkafile‘s military and intelligence sources, is playing a supporting role in Amman, Jordan. There, he is running a negotiating marathon with batch after batch of Sunni tribal leaders, guerrilla commanders – some as menacing as the al Qaeda-linked Ansar al Islam – and senior Sunni clerics. His mission is to broker an end to the violence plaguing Iraq. (Ansar al Islam was seriously discomfited by the publication of these contacts and made haste to reaffirm its individed dedication to jihad.)
According to our sources, Allawi embarked on the most intensive phase of his Amman talks Saturday, June 25, after secret preparatory visits to two Arab capitals – Damascus, June 23, to see Syrian president Bashar Assad, and Cairo Friday, June 24 for talks with Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak. His purpose was to enlist their aid in stopping Iraq’s guerrilla war. The former Iraqi premier was provided with a special plane by the United Arab Emirates which is chipping in with funding for his US-backed peace mission.
The Iraqi mediator left Damascus empty handed.
Assad again spurned the umpteenth demand to seal Syria’s borders against the outflow to Iraq of the Arab fighters, weapons, explosives and money fueling the insurgency. He likewise refused to shut down the al Qaeda and pro-Saddam Baath senior command posts and training camps operating out of Syria’s main cities. Allawi and Assad never got along. But the Syrian ruler made a deliberate gesture of ill will by immediately inviting Allawi’s great political rival Iraqi president Jalal Talabani to visit Damascus in the coming days. The invitation was also meant as a hint to Iraqi Arabs and Sunnis that the Americans and the former prime minister were not the only options on the board.
In Cairo, Allawi was warmly welcomed. Mubarak not only promised assistance for a negotiated accommodation to pacify Iraq, but there and then, picked up the phone and ordered Arab League secretary Amr Mussa to put the entire organization behind the Allawi mission.
In Amman, the Shiite politician is at home.
DEBKA-Net-Weekly 210of June 17 was the first world publication to disclose the Hashemite royal palace’s deep involvement on Washington’s behalf in the secret track running between US and guerrilla commanders. King Abdullah has placed his own national security adviser General Saad Kheir in charge of the Jordanian liaison officers carrying messages back and forth between the parties.
But in the five months since these Amman-based exchanges began, little has been achieved. Worst of all, the level of violence has not diminished, but the reverse.
So how does Bush see Allawi proceeding next?
According to debkafile sources, mid-July has been set as the deadline for the Iraqi politician to wind up his negotiations with the Sunni guerrillas. That is supposed to give him time to organize a Sunni Arab Congress that will bring together 250 delegates of all the Sunni factions, parties and guerrilla groups. Their attendance will serve as a ticket to Iraq’s mainstream political process. Whereas Allawi is a secular Shiite outside government, he has enlisted a reliable and solid collaborator inside the cabinet: Sunni defense minister Saadoun al-Duleimi.
debkafile‘s Iraq experts believe that, even if Allawi brings the entire maneuver off, there is no guarantee that guerrilla operations will instantly cease or even abate. A decline may be expected – but only over a period of time.
Our experts support the US defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s gloomy assessment as more realistic than the president’s optimism. Sunday, June 26, two days before the Bush keynote speech at For Brag, Rumsfeld remarked that insurgencies tend to go on for six, eight, 10, 12 years. He reflected the grim testimony US Middle East commander Gen John Abizaid offered the Senate’s Armed Services Committee when he reported that the Iraqi insurgency was still running with the same intensity and foreign fighters joining the war at the same level as six months ago.
debkafile‘s Iraq experts add three points to bolster these estimates:
1. While Allawi has been in contact with Sunni figures one way or another for a year, starting during his term as prime minister, the level of insurgent attacks has not been affected. Their leaders have found they can keep shooting and talking at the same time.
2. All the Bush administration’s efforts to topple the Assad regime and create a new political environment in Damascus that would stem the flow of Arab aid to Iraq are turning into long-term endeavors. Results could take months or even years and meanwhile the Syrian lifeline to the Iraqi insurgency is functioning full blast.
3. The Baghdad administration’s conduct of state affairs is increasingly detrimental to Sunni Arab interests. The Kurds and the Shiites who dominate the government are progressively expanding self-rule in their respective territories in ways that constrict the Sunni region around Baghdad, leave them with sparse crumbs of the country’s oil resources, and no access to the sea or Europe. It is hard to imagine the Sunni

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