US and Kurdish diplomacy save Iraq again
In the days that followed the bombing of a sacred Shiite shrine, Iraq seemed within a hair's breadth of civil war. But an aggressive U.S. and Kurdish diplomatic campaign appears for now to have coaxed the country back from open conflict between Sunni Arabs and Shiites, according to Iraqi politicians and Western diplomats speaking in interviews on Monday.Disappointing news to those in this country who want to lose the war in Iraq, as well as to the enemy in Iraq.
"Localized difficulties also persist, but I think, at the strategic level, this crisis -- a mosque attack leading to civil war -- is over," Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, said in a telephone interview. "It was a serious crisis. I believe that Iraq came to the brink and came back."
Khalilzad and others sounded upbeat on Monday, as authorities lifted a three-day ban on vehicle traffic and life in Baghdad returned to a state of uneasy normalcy after five days of bloodletting. The ambassador, another Western diplomat and Iraqi politicians described the behind-the-scenes political negotiations that helped stem the violence.