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Iraq PM Maliki Calls for US Troop Withdrawl in 16 Months

Update: The right wing blogosphere, along with conservative commenters here on Wizbang Blue, have been busily attempting to spin this news around, suggesting that the Iraqi government has backed away from the published reports quoting Iraqi Prime Minister al-Maliki in support of Barack Obama's 16 month timetable. Apparently the spinmeisters at Hot Air and Drudge Report are so good, or the conservatives who are choosing to believe the spin are so gullible, that these lies are gaining traction.

Unfortunately for them the Iraqi government issued a statement Monday morning that once again supports the reports that the Iraqis are in line with Obama's plan of a 16 month timetable from when he takes office. He will assume office in January 2009, so mid-2010 marks the end of 16 months.

Iraq's government spokesman is hopeful that U.S. combat forces could be out of the country by 2010.

Ali al-Dabbagh made the comments following a meeting in Baghdad on Monday between Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and Democratic presidential contender Barack Obama, who arrived in Iraq earlier in the day.

The timeframe is similar to Obama's proposal to pull back combat troops within 16 months. The Iraqi government has been trying to clarify its position on a possible troop withdrawal since al-Maliki was quoted in a German magazine last week saying he supported Obama's timetable.

---original post begins here---

al_maliki-withdrawal.jpgIraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki says it is time for President Bush to commit to a withdrawal timetable, and has endorsed the timetable for withdrawal put forth by Democratic Presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama that calls for a 16 month timeframe.

In addition, al-Maliki has specifically stated the situation in Iraq does not call for the kind of long-term (100 year) presence in Iraq as outlined and promoted by Republican nominee John McCain.

Maliki's remarks are contained in a German newspaper interview published on the Spiegel website (linked here).

In the interview, Spiegel journalists first ask Maliki how he feels about the a long-term U.S. presence in Iraq:

SPIEGEL: Germany, after World War II, was also liberated from a tyrant by a US-led coalition. That was 63 years ago, and today there are still American military bases and soldiers in Germany. How do you feel about this model?

Maliki: Iraq can learn from Germany's experiences, but the situation is not truly comparable. Back then Germany waged a war that changed the world. Today, we in Iraq want to establish a timeframe for the withdrawal of international troops -- and it should be short. At the same time, we would like to see the establishment of a long-term strategic treaty with the United States, which would govern the basic aspects of our economic and cultural relations. However, I wish to re-emphasize that our security agreement should remain in effect in the short term.

Maliki then identifies the key stumbling point for drawing the Iraq War to a conclusion, citing the wrong-headed political motives of the Bush administration, specifically the desire on the part of the Republican administration to avoid the appearance of defeat.

SPIEGEL: How short-term? Are you hoping for a new agreement before the end of the Bush administration?

Maliki: So far the Americans have had trouble agreeing to a concrete timetable for withdrawal, because they feel it would appear tantamount to an admission of defeat. But that isn't the case at all. If we come to an agreement, it is not evidence of a defeat, but of a victory, of a severe blow we have inflicted on al-Qaida and the militias. The American lead negotiators realize this now, and that's why I expect to see an agreement taking shape even before the end of President Bush's term in office. With these negotiations, we will start the whole thing over again, on a clearer, better basis, because the first proposals were unacceptable to us.

Next, the specter of Iraqi courts moving against U.S. contractors in Iraq is marked by Maliki as just one of the negotiating points that must be ironed out with the Bush administration, and he also cites concerns over the process of withdrawal. Maliki obviously does not want to leave it up the U.S. Generals -- as John McCain has suggested -- but sees a role for his government in framing the specific steps forming the withdrawal timetable.

SPIEGEL: Immunity for the US troops is apparently the central issue.

Maliki: It is a fundamental problem for us that it should not be possible, in my country, to prosecute offences or crimes committed by US soldiers against our population. But other issues are no less important: How much longer will these soldiers remain in our country? How much authority do they have? Who controls how many, soldiers enter and leave the country and where they do so?

Finally, Maliki speaks specifically to Barack Obama's proposed 16 month timetable.

SPIEGEL: Would you hazard a prediction as to when most of the US troops will finally leave Iraq?

Maliki: As soon as possible, as far as we're concerned. U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama talks about 16 months. That, we think, would be the right timeframe for a withdrawal, with the possibility of slight changes.

SPIEGEL: Is this an endorsement for the US presidential election in November? Does Obama, who has no military background, ultimately have a better understanding of Iraq than war hero John McCain?

Maliki: Those who operate on the premise of short time periods in Iraq today are being more realistic. Artificially prolonging the tenure of US troops in Iraq would cause problems. Of course, this is by no means an election endorsement. Who they choose as their president is the Americans' business. But it's the business of Iraqis to say what they want. And that's where the people and the government are in general agreement: The tenure of the coalition troops in Iraq should be limited.

Hopefully Republicans and Democrats, and conservatives and liberals alike, will all rejoice that the end of this terrible farce, this shameful sham dubbed the "Global War on Terror," is drawing to a close -- but I rather doubt that Republicans will take this defeat of John McCain's plan of attack towards Iraq with any sort of grace or good will.

It's never been about terrorism or WMDs or liberating the people of Iraq, and the world knows it. While we shouldn't hang our heads in shame over Bush's blunders we owe it to the world to "get over" our mistakes and proudly move forward towards the quick conclusion to our occupation as called for by PM al-Maliki -- and quit the pompous face-saving electoral-motivated actions of the Bush administration. There's important work ahead of us in rebuilding this great nation to our previous stature and standing both domestically and abroad.


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Comments (10)

You know that Iran has a great amount to do with this, and will attempt to expand their political influence in the region and pick up any benefits of the instability the U.S. created in Iraq by creating alliances with the Shiite majority in Iraq.

The U.S. painted themselves into a real corner with Iraq, and now Iran will emerge as the big winner.

Wethal:

Actually he was mis-translated or misquoted. A correction has now been issued.

16-month withdrawal would be the "best case scenario" assuming positive developments keep on coming at the rate they have. A lot of contingecy there.

Check Drudge or Hotair for corrected story.

Lee Ward[TypeKey Profile Page]:

I'm not suprised that conservative mouthpieces like Drudge and Hotair are trying to spin this, but read what you just wrote.

"16-month withdrawal would be the "best case scenario" assuming positive developments keep on coming at the rate they have. A lot of contingecy there."

Of course it's contingent on things as they are happening now continuing as they are now.

Any plan does. If things change the plan will need to be adjusted, just as Barack Obama has said -- but Maliki is on board with the Obama timetable of a 16 month goal.

If, for example, President Obama quickly refocuses our priorities and ratchets up efforts at going after al-Qaeda leadership in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and this results in an increase in insurgency in Iraq, then the Obama 16 month plan will need to be adjusted.

If, 12 months into our withdrawal from Iraq, we find that the Iraqis are accelerating their efforts and things are going better than expected, then the Obama 16 month plan will need to be adjusted.

That's what you get with Barack Obama that you haven't had with George Bush and won't have with John McSame. You have realistic plans with realistic timetables that meet the goals of the Iraqi people and the U.S people as well.

You're just not used to it...

Wethal:

CNN now reporting that Maliki says his words were not correctly translated. Maliki is not on board with a 16-month timetable.

He is going to agree to a "time horizons" set of goals with Bush, which is what General Petraeus also says is the correct course to take.

http://www.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/meast/07/19/almaliki.obama/index.html?section=cnn_latest

Wethal:

By the way, when are we going to get out of those quagmires that FDR got us into: Italy, Germany, Japan..

Or that quagmire Truman got us into: Korea..

Or that quagmire Clinton got us into: Kosovo..

Oh, they're strategic bases? (Well, maybe not Kosovo.) And we could be there for years (50? 60? 70?) as a strategic base is part of our world-wide defense.

A set of strategic bases in a critically important part of the world, let's see, the Middle East is quite important..

Lee Ward[TypeKey Profile Page]:

"CNN now reporting that Maliki says his words were not correctly translated. Maliki is not on board with a 16-month timetable."

Sentence 1 is correct, sentence 2 is not supported by anything at the link provided.

It must really hurt to know that the Bush BS of the last year has just been blown out of the water.

Maliki has not recanted his position that Obama's 16 month timetable is the one that he sees as realistic and preferable.

Quoting from the CNN article you linked:

But a spokesman for al-Maliki said his remarks "were misunderstood, mistranslated and not conveyed accurately."

Government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said the possibility of troop withdrawal was based on the continuance of security improvements, echoing statements that the White House made Friday after a meeting between al-Maliki and U.S. President Bush.

"The Continuance of improvements" - just as we discussed previously - as you said:

"16-month withdrawal would be the "best case scenario" assuming positive developments keep on coming at the rate they have. A lot of contingecy there."

Nothing's changed in the new link you provided -- except you are now falsely claiming "Maliki is not on board with a 16-month timetable."

There's nothing in the article you quoted that states Maliki is not on board with a 16-month timetable. Instead, Iraqi officials are addressing that some news outlets and bloggers are calling this an endorsement of Obama.

Maliki has not endorsed Obama. He has stated, and not recanted or corrected, his opinion that sooner is best, and 16 months is preferable.

No doubt the White House is pushing Maliki's buttons to get him to recant his support of Obama's timetable.

So far, Maliki has not backed away from his previous statement. Yes, it's contingent upon continued improvement -- of course it is -- how can we stick to a 16 month timetable if things change significantly.

Just as Obama says -- the plan will be adjusted if circumstances on the ground call for adjustments.

Joe:

Lee can't accept he is just plain wrong. The liberal media is trying to spin it, not the bloggers. What a shame Lee Ward's reporting is so twisted, biased, and sloppy.

Lee Ward[TypeKey Profile Page]:

Show me Maliki's words that prove me wrong.

You can't so you want everyone to believe something else because Michelle Malkin says it's wrong.

Crawl back in your hole - the daylight must be blinding you, Joe.

Throwing links on this comment thread, won't cut it.

Saying Drudge says otherwise, won't cut it.

Saying Hot Air said blah blah blah, won't cut it.

Throwing up a link to a CNN article that doesn't support your position won't cut it either.

You conservative trolls are such a pathetic lot.

Lee Ward[TypeKey Profile Page]:

The Associated Press:

[Obama], challenged at every turn on the Iraq issue by Republicans, including presidential rival Sen. John McCain, was expected to arrive in the country amid the controversy over comments by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki that were supportive of Obama's 16-month timetable.

A definitive statement. Comments that were supportive of Obama's 16 month timetable.

And the "correction" being issued does not change the fact that Maliki came out in support of Obama's 16 month timetable -- instead, it clarifies that Maliki is not endorsing any one candidate over the other.

The Iraqi leader's aides have said his remarks, published in a German magazine, were misunderstood and that he was not taking sides in the U.S. election.

Feel free to prove otherwise... but I wonder if there's a honest Republican left in the world. At least the vast majority of them around here are just slimy little trolls, or fat, tubby trolls intent on intimidation because they are unable to argue with the facts.

DaveD:

I think Paul, in his first post on this thread expresses my reservations about this situation. The true measure of al-Maliki's statesmanship will be how security is maintained following the withdrawal of US troops. The Sunni minority enjoyed a privileged status under Saddam and although reconciliation seems to be progressing it is difficult to know whether al-Maliki can continue this progress when American troops leave and possibly the Shiite majority will simply take control with the blessings of Iran (and the consternation of Saudi Arabia). I am expecting that when Obama returns from his trip he will make some sort of major statement about the situation as he sees it in Iraq. I just don't know how to read him, though, because I believe he has so little experience in foreign affairs that idealism takes the place of being pragmatic in this particular area with him. McCain suffers on this site from having supported the surge and it has brought positive results. The "now what" moment is coming up. I still don't believe that al-Maliki is the strong statesman that Iraq needs. If things fall apart after the troops leave when/if Obama becomes the POTUS then I am expecting the talking points have already been written that the improving security in Iraq under the Bush watch was at best an illusion and was in reality barely tenuous. I think Obama has little interest in the success or failure in Iraq, but failure fits what his core supporters want so it is the preferred alternative.


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Publisher: Kevin Aylward

Editors: Lee Ward, Larkin, Paul S Hooson, and Steve Crickmore

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