North Korea and the United States have agreed to resume the long-stalled six-party talks on Pyongyang’s nuclear issue “as soon as possible,” it was announced here on Wednesday.
The breakthrough came during talks brokered by China. Top negotiators of the three countries held several rounds of bilateral and trilateral talks in Beijing from Tuesday to Wednesday, exchanging views “frankly and in an in-depth way”, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said.
North Korea and the United States agreed to resume the six-party talks on the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue as soon as possible, the ministry said without giving a firm date.
ABC News has learned that Pentagon officials are considering a major strategic shift in Iraq, to move U.S. forces out of the dangerous Sunni-dominated al-Anbar province and join the fight to secure Baghdad.
The news comes as President Bush prepares to meet with Iraq’s president to discuss the growing sectarian violence.
There are now 30,000 U.S. troops in al-Anbar, mainly Marines, braving some of the fiercest fighting in Iraq. At least 1,055 Americans have been killed in this region, making al-Anbar the deadliest province for American troops.
And then what do we do with a province that can arm itself to the teeth and take the fight to our troops elsewhere? Just sit in Baghdad and hope that they won’t? I’m sure that this is an attempt to buy some time and ultimately leave the al-Anbar fight to the Iraqis. I’m just not sure that it will grant us the leverage that we’re looking for. Perhaps the most discouraging part of the whole article is this statment:
“If we are not going to do a better job doing what we are doing out [in al-Anbar], what’s the point of having them out there?” said a senior military official.
I guess that pretty much says it all.
This is generating a lot of email. Most of which is off the record. But everyone seems to be falling into one of two camps. You either see this as the first stage of a total withdrawal or think we may be preparing for a big (but likely final) push. I’m not terribly optimistic but I hope I’m surprised.
Gen. Pace says no way:
Asked specifically whether serious consideration is being given to the idea of abandoning Al-Anbar to put more U.S. forces in Baghdad, Pace bluntly replied “no.”
“You gave me a very straight question. I gave you a very straight answer. No. Why would we want to forfeit any part of Iraq to the enemy? We don’t,” he told reporters at a Pentagon briefing.
“It is our goal to turn over every province in Iraq to the Iraq security forces under the command and control of the Iraq government. That is our goal. There is no immediate thought to moving all coalition forces out of Al Anbar province and turning over right now today all security in Al Anbar to Iraqi security forces. It’s not on the table,” he added.
Hot Air: Devlin’s memo is causing some buzz around the ’sphere today, notably at INDC Journal, where Bill is getting set to embed with the Corps in Anbar assuming they’re still there come December, and at the Fourth Rail, where Bill Roggio fisks WaPo’s treatment of Devlin’s report in an attempt to show that they slanted the thing deliberately. He makes a good case, but the ABC story makes it considerably harder to believe.
The Captain’s Journal: For reasons that I cannot discuss at this time, I believe that there is some possibility, however remote it may seem to the reader, that we are cordoning off the Anbar Province (and in particular Ramadi), in order to prepare an assault later “Fallujah-style.” More Marine patrols where they are getting sniper attacks is not adding to security. We are either getting out, or we’re getting serious.
Kishkushim: Anbar province illustrates the pitfalls of the policy of regime change. The “failed province” is likely to become a staging area for attacks on US forces, the Iraqi central government, as well as on Saudi Arabia and Jordan. At the same time, as Iraq becomes more and more Iranian, the Saudis and others might be tempted to use the province as a buffer. In any case, it is unlikely that the flow of guns and fighters into and out of Anbar – no doubt much of them through Syria – will stop soon. It does not look like the US can afford to back any of the factions in the province; most of them would probably not be very interested in such a deal anyway. On the other hand, the US would probably be reluctant to support Shi’a efforts to crush the insurgents there, because this could very well play into Iran’s hands.\
Born at the Crest of the Empire: Appreciate this for a moment. On the same day that Bush blamed Al Qaeda for inciting the violence in Iraq, the Pentagon is contemplating abandoning the province from which they are launching attacks.
The Fourth Rail: Lost in the current debate over Iraq – civil war or sectarian violence, success or failure, increasing troops or strategic redeployment, victory or defeat – is the sea-change occurring in western Iraq. The U.S. military has coaxed a large majority of the Sunnis of Anbar province, perhaps one of the most sympathetic groups to al-Qaeda in the Middle East, to turn on al-Qaeda. The choice wasn’t difficult after the tribes saw what al-Qaeda had to offer – death, torture, Taliban like sharia, humiliation, destruction of commerce. The relationship and intelligence gained form operating in western Iraq will benefit the west during the Long War – if the U.S. doesn’t withdrawal precipitously and leave the Anbar tribes to the predations of al-Qaeda in Iraq.
John F. Kerry’s dead-last ranking in a poll of 2008 White House contenders has pundits saying he’s down for the count, but the beleaguered senator’s camp insists he’s still in the fight – and that’s no joke.
The Quinnipiac University popularity rankings – based on interviews with 1,600 voters – come as Kerry struggles to recover from his “botched” attempt at humor when he made a reference to soldiers serving in Iraq.
Kerry ranked 20th out of 20 politicians, lagging far behind a slew of Democrats expected to seek the party’s 2008 nomination.
Sure it’s early but Kerry didn’t have any traction before his troop slam and there’s absolutely no reason to expect a massive shift in public opinion.
Houston has more to offer than cold margaritas and a hot rap music scene – Topnotch Taliban training grounds for illegal Pakistani “students” for example:
The U.S. Attorney’s office today announced that two Houston men have been indicted on charges that they conspired to aid the Taliban.
Kobie Diallo Williams, also known as Abdul Kabeer and Abdul Kabir, 33, a U.S. citizen and Houston resident, and Adnan Babar Mirza, 29, a Pakistani national who overstayed a student visa, are charged with conspiring to train with firearms with a goal to fight with the Taliban against coalition forces in the Middle East and providing approximately $350 in cash to support terrorist groups.
Mirza is also charged with three violations of federal firearms law. The four count indictment was returned under seal by a Houston grand jury last week and unsealed today after the appearance of both men before a U.S. magistrate judge.
“In this post 9/11 era, threats against our international security efforts are taken most seriously,” said U.S. Attorney DeGabrielle.
“While these subjects did not operate at a high level of sophistication in comparison with the 9/11 hijackers, the expressed goal was to aid the Taliban by training to carry out jihad against coalition troops in the Middle East,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Roderick Beverly.
These two can best be described as not too bright but deadly serious:
The indictment alleges that Williams and Mirza viewed the United States and coalition military forces in Afghanistan and Iraq as invaders. They then agreed in April 2005 that they should travel to the Middle East to fight with the Taliban to engage in battlefield jihad, according to the indictment.
To hone their skills in anticipation for battlefield jihad, the indictment alleges Williams and Mirza agreed to train with firearms at various locations located in Harris and surrounding counties.
Michelle Malkin: “Just doing the job Americans won’t do.” And apparently helping to recruit at least one treasonous American to help him do it.
Herschel Smith is frustrated:
It is a remarkable thing to witness a general say that a particular province is “not under control” three and a half years into the war effort, and then to demur to the “more critical” city of Baghdad, presumably because it is the seat of government in Iraq. The point is that this question – and its remarkable answer – would never have been salient with the right number of troops. Said another way, only a lack of troop presence causes the need to shift resources from one location to another, while leaving the one to suffer and descend into anarchy. Is this clear enough?
…Finally, there is more to the concept of force projection than number of troops. Proper force projection also has to do with how the troops are used, i.e., their mission. I have previously noted that the Marines in the Anbar Province feel hamstrung by the rules of engagement, which have evolved over the war in Iraq. Further, having a troop presence, even with robust rules of engagement, is not the same thing as utilizing them. Camp Fallujah has at the present around 10,000 troops resident. Of those troops in the area, only 300 currently have a continual presence in Fallujah-proper, a city of 300,000. Note that this is a ratio 1000:1 Iraqis to Marines.
As Marines in Iraq expand into more advisory roles to Iraqi troops, the insurgency, by the use of criminal techniques, has become financially self-sufficient. The violence has not abated, there are daily retaliatory attacks by Sunni and Shia, and there is talk of civil war in Iraq. U.S. troops face the daily threat of sniper attacks, and the U.S. casualty rate in Iraq has a positive slope line. At least in part, these are the consequences of inadequate force projection.
It seems some are in agreement:
A newly updated classified Marine assessment by Col. Peter Devlin showed the complexity of the problem in its detailed look at Sunni-dominated Anbar province, where fighting in towns such as Fallujah and Ramadi has been among the most intense in the country. The memo concluded that al-Qaeda in Iraq, a group affiliated with Osama bin Laden’s terrorist network, is now the “dominant organization of influence” among the province’s 1.25 million people, and that a military or political defeat of the group was unlikely without a huge influx of troops and financial aid.
But as Herschel notes just sending troops and money won’t get the job done. They need the political backing, strategic decision-making, and rules of engagement that will allow them to get the job done.