Letting bygones be bygones?

Talabani Offers Amnesty to Insurgents

The new Kurdish president of Iraq (the mere existence of which, in itself, is utterly amazing) has voiced offers of amnesty for insurgents in Iraq.

Talabani, elected Wednesday by the new National Assembly, repeatedly reached out during his inaugural speech to Iraq’s Sunnis, disaffected since the April 9, 2003, overthrow of Saddam Hussein and disenfranchised by their leaders’ call for a boycott of the January vote.

Talabani offered amnesty to those who turned away from the Sunni-led armed resistance, saying they had been misled by foreign terrorists.

“We should find the political and peaceful solutions with those Iraqis who were deceived into joining the terrorists to afford them amnesty and invite them to join the democratic process,” Talabani said.

Distinguishing between Iraqi insurgents and foreign fighters, Talabani offered no clemency for the “criminal terrorism that is imported from abroad.”

Last year, interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi offered an amnesty to Iraqi insurgents other than those who had raped, kidnapped or killed. Talabani described a broader amnesty and said nothing about excluding insurgents who had killed combatants.

Asked if amnesty would be offered insurgents responsible for attacks, Talabani told reporters: “Not those who are attacking civilians, those who are attacking mosques . . . those who are attacking churches. They are killing innocent people. They are criminals.”

This, of course, is a delicate matter. But I’ve written before about the need to negotiate and find a way to deal with most of the insurgents.

The benefits of this are obvious: Not only is an insurgent or group of insurgents removed from the other side’s roster, but it will undoubtedly provide at least some intelligence on the remaining bad guys, especially the foreign fighters. And the agreements will serve as a beacon of hope to those who find themselves backed into a corner with no way out. If a way to cease resistance without losing honor is available, many will probably take it.

I’ve long been skeptical of public announcements that the insurgency is crumbling or near defeat. But events since the January elections have me wondering if a snowball might not be coming.

It would be a welcome thing, indeed. Too bad the media won’t really cover it. They’ll be out looking for the Tet Offensive. (via ACE)