Saturday, July 19, 2008

Iraq's Maliki Backs Obama's Exit Plan

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. AP photo: Khalid Mohammed

Maliki said as much in an interview with the German magazine Der Spiegel. Here is part of an article and the interview taken from "The Swamp," written by Frank James from the Chicago Tribune's Washington Bureau:

SPIEGEL: Would you hazard a prediction as to when most of the US troops will finally leave Iraq?
Maliki: As soon as possible, as far as we're concerned. US presidential candidate Barack 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.
SPIEGEL: Is this an endorsement for the US presidential election in November? Does Obama, who has no military background, ultimately have a better understanding of Iraq than war hero John McCain?
Maliki: Those who operate on the premise of short time periods in Iraq today are being more realistic. Artificially prolonging the tenure of US troops in Iraq would cause problems. 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.

Maliki is clearly doing what he feels he must for his domestic audience which has a love-hate relationship with the U.S. military. On one hand, they welcome the U.S. military's ability to beat back Iraqi insurgents and foreign terrorists.
But the U.S.'s presence in Iraq is also an affront to Iraqi nationalism and viewed as an occupation by many Iraqis, a necessary evil whose end is devoutly wished for by many Iraqis, according to many reports.

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