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January 20, 2007

The Talabani Al Hayat Interview

Talbani_01.jpg_200_-1.jpgKevin Drum posted a question with respect to a news item cited by Juan Cole, on what Iraqi President Jalal Talabani said on Iran - US - Iraq relations.

The article Cole worked off referred to an accompanying article of the interview w al-Hayat (what appears to be a partial transcript of the interview).

In that interview he responds to a question w respect to Iran and Syria:

Among the most interesting items to note is his affirmation in the response that Bush recognised "Iraq has the right to talk to its two neighbors, Syria and Iran to solve its problems and its security situation." He then goes to affirm that "[c]ertainly we don't wish American-Iranian relations develop into a confict bearing on Iraqi soil."

What follows is interesting. Talabani notes that rather "we've exerted efforts in order to establish an American-Iranian agreement or understanding on cooperative work with respect to security and stability in Iraq." He then says that during his visit to Iran last year [2006], "we agreed with our Iranian brothers on a tripartite meeting betwen Iran, America and Iraq with respect to enjoining security and stability in Iraq. When I returned I informed the American ambassador in Iraq ... of the subject and subsequently advised him and Washington of the agreement on the meeting. The Iranian brothers' precondition was that the meeting be held in a secret fashion, out of view of the press, and that we even agreed on the day and place for the meeting. The American Ambassador went to the location a day before, but the Iranian brothers cancelled the meeting because the American foreign minister, Condoleeza Rice informed the Congress, such that the news of the meeting became public."

Rather quick translation, I am sure I have clumsily rendered some items, but it conveys the essentials.

The interview further notes the meeting was to be in Iraqi Kurdistan (interesting that Talabani phrased it that way), and continues to note that the Iranians have made clear they are ready to meet the Americans officially and the Iraqis are still making all efforts to achieve an understanding regarding the security situation and other matters.

Seems relatively clear from the interview, which also touches on Syria, that Talabani is not appreciative of the Right Bolshy American vision of attacking / confronting Syria and Iran, and believes that there is an opening for an understanding.

It also appears clear, contra some blogging whanking, that the Iranian opennes to talking pre-dates the conservatives less-than-brilliant performance in recent Iranian elections.

Al Hayat Text for reference:

تتذكرون ان الرئيس بوش نفسه قال في لقائه مع السيد نوري المالكي بان للعراق الحق في ان يتحاور مع جيرانه، سورية وايران، لحل مشاكله وموضوعه الامني. طبعا نحن لا نتمنى ان تتطور العلاقات الاميركية - الايرانية الى صراع يدور على ارض العراق. بالعكس نحن بذلنا جهودا من اجل يتم اتفاق او تفاهم اميركي - إيراني للعمل المشترك من اجل الامن والاستقرار في العراق، وسأروي لك حادثتين، في العام الماضي أثناء زيارتي إلى إيران اتفقنا مع الأخوة الإيرانيين على لقاء ثلاثي بين إيران وأميركا والعراق من اجل العمل لفرض الأمن والاستقرار في العراق، وعندما رجعت أخبرت الصديق السفير الاميركي في العراق زلماي خليل زاد بالموضوع وبعد استشارته واشنطن وافق على هذا اللقاء. كان شرط الإخوة الإيرانيين ان يتم اللقاء بصورة سرية بعيدا عن الاعلام والاعلان وحتى اتفقنا على اليوم ومكان الاجتماع وحضر السفير الاميركي الى المكان قبل الموعد بيوم، لكن الإخوة الإيرانيين الغوا الاجتماع لان وزيرة الخارجية الاميركية كوندوليزا رايس أعلنت ذلك أمام الكونغرس فشاع خبر اللقاء.

> اين كان اللقاء مقررا؟

ـ في كردستان العراق في دوكان، لكن هذا نصف الموضوع دعني اكمل النصف الثاني. بعد فترة سماحة السيد عبد العزيز الحكيم زعيم الائتلاف العراقي الموحد و»المجلس الاعلى للثورة الاسلامية» ناشد الإيرانيين ان يستأنفوا الحوار مع اميركا حول العراق، وانا أيضا أيدت وناشدت الاخوة في ايران فقبلوا، والاصدقاء الاميركان أيضا قبلوا. جاء وزير الخارجية الايراني الى بغداد وتباحثنا معه حول ان يتم الاجتماع في مكان معين وطلبوا مني ان احضر الجلسة الاولى للاجتماع فقبلت. الاميركان طلبوا عقد الاجتماع بعد الانتهاء من تأليف الحكومة العراقية التي كانت المداولات جارية من اجل تشكيلها، لكن الاخوة الإيرانيين زعلوا من هذا الامر واعتبروه مماطلة وتسويفا فقطعوا الحوار. يعني مرة الاميركان اجلوا ومرة الايرانيون اجلوا. يعني نحن بذلنا جهودا من اجل لقاء اميركي - ايراني لحل الخلافات حول العراق بعيداً من الصراع الاميركي- الايراني العتيد والقديم.

> هل مازالت هذه الجهود مستمرة؟

ـ نعم نحن ما زلنا نحاول. سأكشف لك سرا، انا في زيارتي الأخيرة إلى طهران بحثت الموضوع مع المسؤولين الايرانيين واعلنوا استعدادهم للقاء مع الاميركان لكنهم قالوا بصورة رسمية ليعلن الاميركان استعدادهم ونحن جاهزون للقاء بهم للبحث في موضوع الامن في العراق وحل القضايا المختلفة

اذا هناك محادثات في القضايا الاخرى؟

ـ نعم. الايرانيون في هذا المجال ابدوا مرونة، انا للتاريخ اشهد بانهم قالوا انهم مستعدون للتفاهم مع اميركا من افغانستان الى لبنان وانهم مستعدون للبحث من اجل الوصول الى نتائج ترضي الطرفين.

Posted by The Lounsbury at January 20, 2007 11:31 AM
Filed Under: Iraq , Politics - Foreign Policy , Politics - Local , Politics - Other FP , Politics - US FP , Sham-Levant

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Dear L,

this doesn't suprise me at all, sadly.

Btw, it's not Iraqi Kurdistan, but Iraq-Kurdistan. Kurdistan al-iraq is one of the terms the Kurds use for the Kurdistan Region when they don't use the official iqliim kurdistan. They strenously avoid (and object to) the term "Iraqi Kurdistan" (kurdistan al-iraqi) as that would characterize the region as Iraqi in terms of ownership and national/ethnic/cultural/whateverelse character.

The term Kurdistan al-Iraq is a political construct to convey they notion that the region is part of the Iraqi state, but also kind of semi-equal to it.


Posted by: MSK at January 20, 2007 01:57 PM

Dear L,

I made a mistake, right in the 2nd sentence.

Correctly it should read:

Btw, it's not Iraqi Kurdistan, but Kurdistan-Iraq.


Posted by: MSK at January 20, 2007 02:00 PM

Right, well what can I say, flipping up and down between the text.... Quick and dirty.

Posted by: The Lounsbury at January 20, 2007 02:50 PM

Dear L,

that was no criticism whatsoever. It took me a moment to get that particular idiosyncracy, too.

On the actual subject of the post - it does jive with the Porter Letter of 2003, where Iran offered to fulfil all of the US' demands in exchange for recognition and some things the Iranians want. The BBC just re-hashed it. Back then, the US admin turned down that offer as well.

The general policy (one shared by Israel) seems to be that FIRST the other side (whoever it is) has to fully comply with the US demands and THEN the US admin is ready to sit down and talk.

Somewhat ... errr ... not overly realistic, if you ask me.


Posted by: MSK at January 21, 2007 01:05 AM

No worries, I messed it up, read it and trasnformed.

And I agree on the actual content - it's a bizarre position to hold, also reminiscint of the Israeli position with respect to the Palestinians. First you agree to stuff we want, and then we talk.

Posted by: The Lounsbury at January 21, 2007 10:38 AM

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