For over three years, the US Government insisted stubbornly on not negotiating with its adversaries in the Middle East, from the principle that contact would be recognition of their role and a reward to them for their hostile actions.
In Baghdad, the United States finally agreed and sat down officially with the two enemies and its Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and on a latter date will sit down with the foreign ministers of Iran and Syria in Turkey, an important but somewhat belated step.
The Americans might have the right to hold the two governments partially responsible for the tragedy of tens of thousands of Iraqis killed because of their allowance of terrorist groups to cross their borders into Iraqi territories. The Americans know very well that more than 5,000 terrorists had entered Iraq and carried out suicide operations that succeeded in undermining security, thwarting to a large extent the Iraqi central government, and bringing matters almost to the brink of civil war. Therefore logic would have dictated talking to Iran and Syria, if they had a hand in what is happening. It is true that there might not be a need for sitting at the table with the Iranians and Syrians in two cases, one if the Americans had succeeded in Iraq and defeated terrorism or the other if they have the ability to deter the two countries.
Washington certainly failed in confronting terrorism in Iraq, failed to prevent it, and was unable to influence the Iranian and Syrian Governments.
Refusing to negotiate with adversaries is the twisted logic behind the US Government’s boycott of the Palestinian Government following Hamas’s victory in the elections on the basis that it is a hostile organization and because it does not recognize what the United States wants it to recognize, thus causing more deterioration and not agreement or submission. If international relations were always confined to friends, then there would not have been a need to open embassies and to give foreign ministries a role. The opposite is true. In crises, one needs the utmost degree of contacts with the adversaries in the hope of finding a chance to repair what was spoiled, finding a solution plan, or discovering unknown points of agreement and even more than this, exchanging the correct information that might otherwise be received distorted through indirect channels between the adversaries.
If Iran and Syria have a hand in Iraq’s anarchy and destruction — and this is something they hinted at recently by talking about their readiness to cooperate to impose security — then the Baghdad conference opened the road of cooperation and its price. I say its price because we know that there is in our region a big market for political bargaining whose tools are wars and terror. Crises are fabricated in order to attain other goals that have nothing to do with what is happening in front of our eyes.
If the Syrians and Iranian can cooperate for the sake of establishing peace in Iraq, ending the anarchy, and stopping the terror, then this will be a major turning toward solving the remaining pending issues in the region. If they do not, then we will be going down a slope from which we cannot climb later. The Americans have reached the conviction that others will pay the price for their failure in Iraq and not the Americans and Iraqis alone and they will not leave except by widening the circle of the crisis.