July 20, 2007


Deals in Iraq Make Friends of Enemies: In Tactical Shift for U.S., Informal Amnesties Win Some Insurgents' Cooperation (Thomas E. Ricks, 7/20/07, Washington Post)

Despite a White House report last week concluding that a formal amnesty initiative would be "counterproductive" for Iraq today, U.S. military officials in Iraq believe that successful counterinsurgency campaigns almost always involve some form of forgiveness as a means to ending the fighting and achieving political reconciliation.

Though no formal arrangement exists for granting amnesty to insurgents, the current deals amount to a kind of don't-ask-don't-tell pardon system. U.S. forces cooperate with former enemies in exchange for information about roadside bombs, weapons caches and sanctuaries of al-Qaeda in Iraq, the mainly Iraqi group that has sought to intensify the country's low-level civil war.

"Our engagement efforts with groups who were once adversaries is about getting them to point their weapons at al-Qaeda and other extremists," Army Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, the No. 2 U.S. commander in Iraq, said in a briefing yesterday, offering the most extensive public comments on the subject thus far. "We are ready and willing to engage with key leaders of any groups opposing AQI [al-Qaeda in Iraq] or other extremist groups." He said that U.S. forces have reached deals with a variety of groups, both Sunni and Shiite, "throughout Iraq," citing Baghdad, the provinces of Anbar and Diyala, the towns of Taji and Iskandariyah, the Arab Jabour region, and southern Iraq.

"They're all very different; they're all very localized," Odierno said of the arrangements. But, he added, they tend to follow three basic steps.

First, the leaders of the groups agree to stop attacking U.S. and Iraqi forces. Then they pledge to fight al-Qaeda in Iraq. Finally, U.S. and Iraqi officials try to get them to become part of Iraqi security forces, usually the police.

"There are no signed agreements," Odierno added. "They are . . . handshake agreements."

As with torture, the ability to test the intelligence they're giving you immediately makes it worthwhile. If they're lying just attack them.

Posted by Orrin Judd at July 20, 2007 12:00 AM

The enemy of my enemy.

Posted by: ic at July 20, 2007 6:46 PM