Iraqi Government Acting Like Real Government
The Iraqi government is claiming Der Spiegel mistranslated earlier reports that they were supporting a timetable for the withdrawal of American troops. The magazine stands by its story.
Ali al-Dabbagh, the chief spokesman for al-Maliki, said in a statement Sunday that the prime minister’s comments were “not conveyed accurately” by Der Spiegel. Al-Dabbagh said al-Maliki did not endorse a specific timetable but instead discussed “an Iraqi vision” of U.S. troop withdrawals based on negotiations with Washington and “in the light of the continuing positive developments on the ground.” He added that Maliki’s comments has been “misunderstood and mistranslated,” without detailing which parts were affected.
This has prompted AP Baghdad bureau chief Robert Reid to respond with an analysis piece under the headline “Iraq Playing US Politics for Best Deal.”
The Iraqi prime minister’s seeming endorsement of Barack Obama’s troop withdrawal plan is part of Baghdad’s strategy to play U.S. politics for the best deal possible over America’s military mission. The goal is not necessarily to push out the Americans quickly, but instead give Iraqis a major voice in how long U.S. troops stay and what they will do while still there.
It also is designed to refurbish the nationalist credentials of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who owes his political survival to the steadfast support of President Bush. Now, an increasingly confident Iraqi government seems to be undermining long-standing White House policies on Iraq.
With Obama due to visit Iraq soon, al-Maliki’s spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh was quick to discredit the report, saying the prime minister’s remarks were “not conveyed accurately.” A top al-Maliki adviser, Sadiq al-Rikabi, insisted the Iraqi government does not intend to be “part of the electoral campaign in the United States.”But that is precisely what the Iraqis intended to do: exploit Obama’s position on the war to force the Bush administration into accepting concessions considered unthinkable a few months ago.
Well, yeah. Which is precisely how governments everywhere act. Indeed, this would appear to be a sign that Maliki and company are more ready for prime time than it had appeared.