Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Al-Maliki calls Junior's bluff

"I'm all in..."

Back in April, 2007, Junior was babbling away with Charlie Rose about, among other things, the Iraq war and occupation. At one point in the interview, Junior implied that US forces were in Iraq with the consent of the Iraqi government and that, if that consent were withdrawn, Junior himself would begin the pullout of American military personnel. Here's the exchange:
ROSE: But if he said get out now, we don’t want you anymore–
BUSH: I don’t see how we could stay. It is his country.
ROSE: But if he said that, it would lead to the catastrophe that you have suggested.
BUSH: That’s why he’s not going to say it.
ROSE: You don’t think he’ll say it?
BUSH: I don’t. No, I don’t.

Perhaps this was an effort to lend credence to the al-Maliki regime, which was installed after several previous failed attempts at establishing a puppet regime. I remember laughing off these remarks as malarkey at the time. Yeah, sure,'ll just pack up and go, won't you?

Well, apparently al-Maliki watches the Charlie Rose show. On July 7th, two days ago, while visiting the United Arab Emirates, he spoke to a group of Arab ambassadors, saying
"Today, we are looking at the necessity of terminating the foreign presence on Iraqi lands and restoring full sovereignty."
And also,

"One of the two basic topics is either to have a memorandum of understanding for the departure of forces or a memorandum of understanding to set a timetable for the presence of the forces, so that we know (their presence) will end in a specific time."
These remarks come as the Iraqi government is engaged in "security negotiations" with the United States, which one can only assume hinge around the continuing presence of a US occupation force.

The White House seemed to be caught flat-footed by the remarks. It took a full news-cycle to formulate a response. The delay is surprising, given that when they finally responded, said response was entirely predictable: they rejected the idea of a timetable for withdrawal. Said State Department spokesman Gonzalo Gallegos:
"The US government and the government of Iraq are in agreement that we, the US government, we want to withdraw, we will withdraw. However, that decision will be conditions-based."
In other words: Not until we're damned well good and ready. The White House rejection of al-Maliki's remarks lend the lie to Junior's year-old verbal spew, but at this point no one expects any truth from the Bush administration.

The real news here is that Al-Maliki is revealing himself to be a cagey player. He doesn't seem willing to play the part that Junior and company have cast for him. And who can blame him? Anybody that would take that job had better have superb survival instincts, not just politically, but physically. His life is on the line.


Ridwan said...

I am reading this as telegraphed. Bush and company want to be seen as willing to withdraw.

Al Maliki is a bit player and McCain is the silent background for now.

All in all the US needs a get-out strategy for sure. But the republicans need that strategy to seem as if the job was done right.

This is an election year after all.

Just my 2 cents brother.


Eclectic Dilettante said...

From what I've heard, Jr. wants to have between 58-60 US bases in Iraq. Some reports suggest one of them to be the size of the Vatican.

Willingly get out? LOL We all knew GW was blowing hot air.

Iran has been teaching Maliki how to stand up to the US. I wonder if this is a good chunk of the tension behind the tense US/Iran relations with the WMD issue as a smoke screen?