Hard at work

BEIRUT — Sorry for the radio silence. I’ve been hard at work on a story about Iranian influence in Lebanon and what it means for the region, and I’ve not had much time to blog.
But this “new reconciliation plan from Maliki”:http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/world/AP-Iraq.html is interesting, to say the least. Possible amnesty for killers of U.S. troops? No firm time-table for withdrawal, but Casey says “significant troop reductions by end of 2007”:http://www.nytimes.com/2006/06/25/world/middleeast/25military.html. It will be very interesting to see how this plays out in American domestic politics. It seems, at first blush, to hand the Democrats much of what they’re asking for (conditions-based plan for redeployment), but it also seems to take away the Republicans’ and George Bush’s “Dems are ‘cut-and-runners'” card. I suspect the GOP will do an about face, say it’s what they wanted all along and run with it.
At least, that would be the smart thing to do. What remains to be seen is whether the Sunni insurgents will buy into this. I have a feeling a good portion will, although how significant that portion will be is unclear. “To those who want to rebuild our country, we present an olive branch … And to those who insist on killing and terrorism, we present a fist with the power of law to protect our country and people,” Maliki told Parliament.
This deal has been in the works for a long time, since November 2004, actually. Michael Ware of TIME, now CNN, reported on the secret negotiations between the Ba’athists and the then-Allawi government and the U.S. military commanders. If Maliki is announcing this, there’s a fair chance that most of the kinks have been ironed out. You don’t drop this on a war-weary public if it doesn’t have a fair chance of working.
This is a sketchy entry, I know, but more on this later… Discuss amongst yourselves if you wish.