Monday, July 07, 2008

AlHayat source: US not opposed to a memo of understanding setting out a withdrawal schedule

Elaborating on Prime Minister Maliki's remarks yesterday to the effect his government is negotiating what will be either an "evacuation of the American forces" or a "withdrawal schedule", and not a "strategic agreement", AlHayat cites a "prominent political source" who says the scheduled-withdrawal concept (via a "Memorandum of Understanding") in fact has met with the approval of the American side, for two reasons: (1) They don't like the risk of an abrupt change of policy under a putative Democratic administration, so this will be a smoothing mechanism; and (2) They aren't keen on the idea of a battle between Bush and Congress in the final months of his administration. The source put it this way:
A prominent political source told AlHayat yesterday that the specifics of a withdrawal-schedule have been under study for a month already, in the absence of any American objection. And the source indicated that "The American side is taking into account domestic developments in the light of statements by the Democratic presidential candidate Barak Obama indicating his intention of accelerating the withdrawal of the forces if he is successful in reaching the White House."

The source said the scenarios of withdrawal of forces will be linked to the powers of (meaning the rights accorded to) the American forces," and he stressed: "The complete temporal horizon has not yet been defined." He explained: "The withdrawal of rights (of the American forces) will be done in stages, linked to the withdrawal of the military units". However, he also stressed that "the question of exit of Iraq from Chapter 7 is something that our country will perhaps be dealing with on its own".
Here the reporter interpolates something from USA Today that said there could be substantial troop drawdowns next year no matter who is president. Then continuing:
The Iraqi source also stressed: "The withdrawal schedule, in addition to being an Iraqi requirement, is also a requirement of the American side". He explained that the present American administration is not prepared to see any dramatic alteration in the direction of American policies in the Middle East, and for that reason it is anticipating the possibility of a Democratic administration after the elections, via a Memorandum of Understanding". He added that the reluctance to sign a Status of Forces Agreement has to do not only with Iraqi objections, but also with the fear that Congress might insist on [its right to] ratification, and not be content with presidential ratification, whereas a Memorandum of Understanding would not require getting into a battle with the legislators in the last months of the Bush administration.


The editorialist at AlQuds alArabi this morning scoffs at the idea (responding to Maliki's statements, obviously not to the AlHayat piece which also appears this morning). In his amusing way, he points out that Maliki appears to have forgotten one important fact: His country is not sovereign but is occupied miltarily by 170,000 American troops. And America didn't spend $60 billion and have 4000 killed and another 30,000 injured
so that Mister Maliki or anyone else can come to them and dictate to them a schedule of withdrawal that is contrary to their plans in Iraq and in the region as a whole. Maliki could accomplish that in only one way: If he were to lead a movement of liberation and wage a serious war against the occupation, inflicting on them enough losses so that withdrawal would then be at the top of their agenda. But that isn't the case, and in fact Maliki relies completely for his existence and the continuance of his government on the protection of the American forces, and he would perhaps not survive in his position for a single day if these forces were to withdraw.
The editorialist notes it didn't take the Pentagon any more than 24 hours after Maliki's statement to put out a statement saying any drawdowns would depend on conditions on the ground, clearly meaning, the editorialist says that it is the Americans who will decide this, not the Maliki administration.


Blogger annie said...


7:57 PM  
Anonymous Michel said...

AlQuds alArabi puts it beautifully right. Al Maliki's posturing, whilst fascinating and novel in that he puts IT on the table, is probably nothing but image and posture. I take it you agree, Badger??!! ;-)


1:30 PM  
Blogger badger said...

I report, you decide

--Badger, fair and balanced

2:07 PM  
Blogger JSN said...

I disagree with the alQuds alArabi perspective here.

I don't think even Cheney(Bush) could blow off an Iraqi Parliament + Presidential vote, legally passed, to remove U.S. troops.

Bush has the "out" of saying "Iraq is now strong enough and the situation secured enough, thanks to our Brilliant, Glorious Surge(tm)(R), that they no longer need the Great American Liberation Force. America has succeeded."

5:59 PM  
Anonymous Lysander said...

Having put down or otherwise silenced/co-opted the Sunni insurgency, the useful roll for the U.S. has passed. Now, likely with coordination from Iran, Maliki will lay out the political ground work for any future Shiite led insurgency...if it is needed.

I don't think this is just bluster on Maliki's part. There is too much public pressure and probably too much from Iran at this point.

The U.S. will probably try to cut individual deals with various parliamentarians to prevent any request from being made. But once made, I don't see the U.S. ignoring it. Just like they held elections when Sistani pressed the matter. They will lobby for the greatest possible influence but if faced with another war, a major recession at home and an angry public are likely to say "fuck it" and get out.

Thanx for your work. Although I'm originally Egyptian, you know Arabic much better than I do :-)

6:34 PM  
Blogger Bruno said...

I hope that JSN and Lysander are correct. While I also don't see the US willingly giving up the various megabases, perhaps the prospect of facing a new round of violence with sanction from the same people that are supposed to be its allies will temper the American position. Also, lets not forget that the US people want out of Iraq (68%) and that enforcing an unwanted stay right before the elections might prove to be a very sour pill for the US electorate to swallow.

Then again, with the Bush gang still in power, who knows what could happen? I smell strong Iranian pressure on Maliki to get the US out. Maybe the Neocons go through with their old dream of flattening Iran before Bush leaves.

11:44 PM  
Blogger motown67 said...

As long as the withdrawal of U.S. troops is drawn out over a couple years I can see the U.S. agreeing to a withdrawal, although I don't have much confidence in the White House's ability to negotiate.

According to reports the deal floated by Iraq is to have the U.S. turn over the provinces, then leave the cities for bases, and then to have a series of reviews over a couple years to determine when and how U.S. troops leave. The disagreement seems to be about how many years that will take. The Iraqis originally said they were about 5-8 years away from being ready for external, as opposd to internal defense, but I think Maliki and others have fooled themselves into thinking that the Army is just a step away from being fully independent. (Uh where's the artillery and air force guys?)

The White House comments about no timetable seem to be just the script they've been following, but I would suspect behind the scenes they're trying to tell the Iraqis they still have a lot to do before their armed forces can actually handle all their security matters.

2:55 AM  
Anonymous Shirin said...

This is not about the security or stability of Iraq, and it surely is not about the will of Iraqis whether it be the Iraqi people or the make-believe government.

The U.S. is not going to willingly withdraw from Iraq. The purpose of the invasion was to gain political and economic control over Iraq in order to turn it into a dependent client state, establish a major permanent military presence there, set it up as a center of military, political, and economic operations in the region, and gain control of the extraction, production, and distribution of the oil (NOT to make big bucks for the oil companies - that is just a pleasant side effect - or to obtain oil for the use of Americans).

They have built their bases, they have their Regional Command and Control Center (which they risibly refer to as an embassy). Does anyone seriously believe they will give all that up without being forced to?

And by the way, Obama and Clinton are/were quite on board with the larger plan, which is why both of them planned to maintain a military force several tens of thousands strong in Iraq for the foreseeable future.

2:42 PM  
Blogger Swopa said...

Maliki could accomplish that in only one way: If he were to lead a movement of liberation and wage a serious war against the occupation, inflicting on them enough losses so that withdrawal would then be at the top of their agenda.

While this may sound very romantic, it should be noted that the Shiites in Iraq rebelled against the British in 1920, and were rewarded with 80 years of Sunni domination. This history was said to be very much on the minds of Sistani et al. in crafting their response to the U.S. invasion.

Also, it should be noted that even avowed anti-occupationist Moqtada as-Sadr has declined to lead such an all-out rebellion, despite his purported grass-roots support and his militia's proven firepower. Based on anecdotal reports from the recent violence in Sadr City and Basra, I gather that although as-Sadr does have substantial public support, for many that support doesn't extend to violent revolt against the government -- and more specifically, when Mahdi Army actions cause his supporters' neighborhoods to become battlegrounds, they unsurprisingly become less enamored with as-Sadr. Thus, Moqtada is smart enough not to push his luck.

3:28 PM  
Anonymous Shirin said...

"the Shiites in Iraq rebelled against the British in 1920, and were rewarded with 80 years of Sunni domination."

Sunni domination? Really? Then how do you explain the large number of Shi`as (and other non-Sunnis) who have held high and very powerful positions in Iraq's various regimes and in its military? How do you explain that in that embarrassingly silly deck of 52 cards distributed by the 2003 American invaders - you know, the "most wanted" members of Saddam's regime - some 35 or so contained the names and faces of people from Shi`a background, including a Kurd who also happened to be a Shi`a? How do you explain the severe persecution of Sunnis and other non-Shi`as who just happened to oppose the regime du jour?

I believe if one looked more closely one would find that it was not so much "Sunni domination" that bugged the likes of Sistani et al,, but rather the fact that Iraq was a secular state, and not a Shi`a Islamic state.

4:00 PM  
Blogger Swopa said...

I believe if one looked more closely one would find that it was not so much "Sunni domination" that bugged the likes of Sistani et al,, but rather the fact that Iraq was a secular state, and not a Shi`a Islamic state.

Good point.

5:42 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home