Iraq: What's Next?

Question: What is the way out?

Ross: I think we should be . . . I think we need a three-fold approach – three means employed when it comes to Iraq. One is negotiate with the Iraqi government and sectarian leaders a timetable for the U.S. to withdraw, which gives them an input. But it also says we’re getting out. Secondly, there should be a national reconciliation conference in parallel with this that involves also not just the national leaders in the center, but also the leaders who are being empowered by what we’re doing in the local areas right now. Because you need to create a bridge between the two, and that shouldn’t be disbanded until they reach an agreement. Now if they do reach agreement, we can be flexible in terms of how we approach the timetable for withdrawal. If they don’t reach agreement, then we can be much less flexible in terms of how we approach withdrawal. And the third – which should really be three parallel negotiations at once – we should be trying to broker with the neighbors, principally like between the Saudis and the Iranians, a set of understandings at least that can contain what’s going on in Iraq, because again you can play upon their mutual needs.


We need a comprehensive, three-fold approach, Ross says.

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