Iranian and American officials (their ambassadors to Baghdad as far as I know) will meet to talk tomorrow in Baghdad. The dialogue, however, started about a week ago. Let’s see what we have…
-America sends two carrier groups the gulf, flexing muscles near Iran's coast in broad daylight.
-Iran sends us Sadr back three days before the planned meeting. What a wonderful gift!
-Abdul Aziz al-Hakeem the leader of the largest bloc in the parliament is diagnosed with cancer but prefers a Tehran hospital over Houston medical center; perhaps the nurses are cuter in Tehran!?
-British and American forces conduct a series of concentrated offensives against top Mehdi army lieutenants in Basra and Sadr city comes under air-strikes for two days in a row.
And perhaps there were smaller signs that I overlooked but this is the kind of pre-dialogue dialogue that's been going on between Iran and America in these interesting times. Each side wants to improve its position on the ground so that it enters the meeting with better cards at the negotiations table.
I'm honestly not expecting much good from such meetings, not in the foreseeable future because the tone of their dialogue on the ground suggests that each side believes (or wants to show) that it has the upper hand in Iraq and the region.
I can't see the slightest hint to concessions from either side so I strongly think that tomorrow's meeting will be only about America and Iran telling each other what they want. The face to face part is the only difference.
It's common wisdom that negotiations are always the hardest at the beginning, but they often become easier and productive with time. The problem is that common wisdom means very little when you are dealing with a revolutionary regime.
I'll keep an eye on it though, maybe we'll have something interesting to discuss tomorrow.