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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Analysis: At Long Last, An Iraq 'Diplomatic Offensive'

Council on Foreign Relations

February 28, 2007
Prepared by: Lionel Beehner

As one of the preconditions to meet with its regional rivals on Iraq, the United States had set a series of benchmarks (WashPost) for the government in Baghdad to meet, such as striking a deal on revenue sharing of oil profits. Shortly after Iraq’s deeply divided leadership agreed to such a deal, true to its word, the White House agreed to participate (NYT) in an international conference which will include Syria and Iran on the issue of bringing stability to Iraq. The two sets of meetings, which Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice announced during House testimony and is expected to attend at the foreign ministerial level, marks the latest in a series of about-faces by the White House. A few weeks ago, U.S. officials signed a landmark agreement with the North Koreans as part of the Six-Party framework to suspend their nuclear program.

A regional conference that includes all of Iraq’s neighbors, as well as the permanent members of the UN Security Council, has long been a talking point of critics of the war and featured prominently of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group report last December. But the Bush administration until recently has accused Iran and Syria as being part of the problem, not part of the solution, by arming and funding Iraqi militias. This Backgrounder explores Iran’s involvement in Iraq. Iran’s secretary of the Supreme National Security Council, Ali Larijani, gave a guarded endorsement of the proposed talks. The conference is expected to address security concerns over Iraq, not larger regional issues like the Israeli-Palestinian agenda or Iran’s nuclear program.

Regional talks that include Iran and Syria are widely seen as a means to achieve stability in Iraq, in light of the influence Tehran and Damascus wield over Iraq’s majority Shiites and militia groups.

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Copyright 2007 by the Council on Foreign Relations. This material is republished on GlobalSecurity.org with specific permission from the cfr.org. Reprint and republication queries for this article should be directed to cfr.org.

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