The Iraqi Timetable for Withdrawal

As the negotiations continue over the agreement for the continuing presence of American troops in Iraq, the Iraqis continue to make trouble for the Bush administration. According to Sally Buzbee of the AP, Iraq’s national security adviser Mouwaffak al-Rubaie said today,

“We will not accept any memorandum of understanding that doesn’t have specific dates to withdraw foreign forces from Iraq.”

Hmmm.

Best case: three years until Iraq assumes control over all 18 provinces (they currently control 9), and another three years to make sure the peace holds. That means, 2014, at the earliest. And, the best case, as anyone who has paid the least attention to Iraq knows, is unlikely to come to pass.

So what is the story here? That the Iraqi government wants America out eventually? That someone on the Iraqi side used the previously verboten word “timetable?” How about that al-Rubaie spoke to reporters

“after briefing Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani in Najaf on the progress of the government’s security efforts and the talks.”

The big question is who is pulling the strings on this deal with the U.S. and why, after all the blood and billions, are we having such a hard time getting our way? Aren’t we supposed to be winning in Iraq?

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