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December 07, 2005

It does read like a possible solution for Iraq. Especially if we leave now, before the damage runs even deeper.

The atwa is an old and venerated system of dispute-resolution practiced in the region for generations. McDermott learned of the tradition during a recent trip to Jordan from influential Iraqis who had the means to flee the violence that's plagued Iraq since the United States' attack.

The process is, as the Iraqis say, "hutwa bi hutwa" -- "step-by-step." It begins with a ceasefire. Then respected leaders on both sides negotiate a series of mutual obligations that bridge the divide between the parties. Instead of the kinds of treaties favored by the West in which a "winner" wrenches concessions from a "loser," the atwa's great strength for a situation like the one plaguing Iraq today is that the process saves face (for more, read McDermott's essay, "Atwa in Iraq: A Tale of Two Villages").

And don't miss the linked-to expanded discussion of the process and the possibilities.

Posted by AnneZook at 08:12 AM