MATTHEWS: What is Petraeus, General Petraeus saying over there aboutThis may make the political solution that even Petraeus admits is necessary impossible.
what‘s he been telling people about that?
MITCHELL: Well, it‘s a good thing you bring that out. He‘s been telling senators—he had, in fact, a closed-circuit briefing for the senators, Democrats as well as Republicans, and he is telling them that he will report some progress, that he hopes to be able to report some progress by August. And in turn, what many Republican senators are saying, Chris, is that if there isn‘t real progress by the end of the summer, that‘s when there are going to really break with the president, that they‘re going along with this surge out of respect for the generals. But in his closed briefing—they went over to the Pentagon and had that briefing, Democrats as well as Republican senators, and he made it clear to them that he thinks he can report some progress.
BAGHDAD, April 2 — The most powerful Shiite cleric in Iraq has rejected an American-backed proposal to allow thousands of former members of Saddam Hussein’s Baath Party to return to government service, an aide to the cleric said Monday.So it would appear that General Petraeus may not be able to meet his August deadline. Is this the end of the beginning of the end? As the disaffected Sunni Arabs step up their attack on the Shia how long will the Mahdi Army sit on the sidelines? Not very long I would guess.
The rejection by the cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, appears certain to fuel hostility between the majority Shiites and the former ruling Sunni Arabs, since many Sunni Arabs say they were unfairly purged from the government in the clampdown on the Baath Party.
The Americans say a partial reversal of the de-Baathification process, which began in 2003, is one of the most crucial steps the Iraqi government can take in wooing back disaffected Sunni Arabs and draining the Sunni-led insurgency of its zealotry. The White House has repeatedly told the Iraqi government that the process must be changed.
The latest proposal was announced by Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki and President Jalal Talabani on March 26 at the strong urging of Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, the senior American envoy to Iraq, who left his job the same day. American officials oversaw the drafting of the proposal.