Liberal, Irreverent

Saturday, July 19, 2008

The Hill: Maliki: 'Obama is right' about troop withdrawal

Day after day and development after development, evrything shows that only OBAMA has the judgement, intelligence and courage to lead this country in the right direction; domestically and internationally.


Maliki: 'Obama is right' about troop withdrawal
By Klaus Marre
Posted: 07/19/08 10:33 AM [ET]

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has backed the withdrawal plans of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, saying the Illinois senator “is right” when he talks about withdrawing U.S. troops within 16 months.

Maliki also appeared to disagree with Republican presidential candidate John McCain on other issues, such as the importance of the surge in making Iraq more secure and whether troop withdrawal equates surrender, as the Arizona senator has indicated.

Asked in an interview with German news magazine Der Spiegel of when he would like to see American forces leave Iraq, Maliki said: “As soon as possible, as far as we’re concerned.” He then added that “Obama is right when he talks about 16 months. Assuming that positive developments continue, this is about the same time period that corresponds to our wishes.”

The White House announced Friday that Maliki and President Bush agreed that there should not be any artificial withdrawal timelines and that troop reductions should be tied to situations on the ground. However, while saying that he is not making an endorsement in the U.S. election, the Iraqi prime minister left little doubt that the Iraqi people and its government prefer Obama’s plan.

“Those who operate on the premise of short time periods in Iraq today are being more realistic. Artificially prolonging the tenure of U.S. troops in Iraq would cause problems,” he said, adding, “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.”

The Iraqi prime minister argued that the troop surge was not the main reason that violence in his country has been curbed.

“There are many factors, but I see them in the following order. First, there is the political rapprochement we have managed to achieve in central Iraq. This has enabled us, above all, to pull the plug on al-Qaida,” Maliki stated when asked what had contributed to the improvement of conditions in the Middle Eastern country. “Second, there is the progress being made by our security forces. Third, there is the deep sense of abhorrence with which the population has reacted to the atrocities of al-Qaida and the militias. Finally, of course, there is the economic recovery.”

With regard to working on a bilateral agreement that covers U.S.-Iraqi cooperation on many sectors, including security, the economy, culture and health, Maliki said the Bush administration has “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-Qaeda and the militias,” he stated.

Maliki's comments come as Obama is visiting the Middle East, including Afghanistan and Iraq.

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