by Tom Hayden
October 01, 2007
Sunni and Shi’a leaders began a potential peace process at secret meetings with leaders of the new Northern Ireland and South Africa one month, signing draft set of principles which resemble the protocols that guided the peace settlements in those two countries.
Chairing the closed meetings near Helsinki were Martin McGuinness, the former Irish Republican Army commander, lead negotiator with the British, and now Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland, and Roelf Meyer, former leader of the pro-apartheid National Party in South Africa’s peace negotiations. The Irish delegation also included former IRA hunger striker Leo Green, minister Jeffrey Donaldson, former Stormont speaker Lord Alderdice, and former loyalist paramilitary leader Billy Hutchison. South African participants included ANC leaders Mac Maharaj and Rashid Ismail, key participants in the military and political negotiations in South Africa. [See “McGuinness in Iraqi Peace Negotiations,” An Phoblacht, Sinn Fein Weekly, Sept. 6, 2007, and “NI Figures Boost Iraqi Peace Talks,” BBC, Sept. 4, 2007]
The Iraq delegations’ names have not been released but reportedly included six Sunni and nine Shi’a who signed a statement of principles. About 30 Iraqis were present, including Akram al-Hakim, minister of national reconciliation for the Baghdad government, representatives of Moktada al-Sadr, Sunni leader Adnan al-Dulaimi, and Humam Hammoudi, the Shi’a chairman of the Baghdad parliament’s foreign affairs committee.
There is no doubt that American and British authorities knew about and approved the meeting, though they were excluded from attending. Instead, the meeting was facilitated and funded by the Finnish Crisis Management Initiative [CMI] and the McCormack Graduate School at the University of Massachusetts.
At this point, virtually no American media outlets have reported the meeting, despite the importance of the parties in attendance. READ MORE