Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Maliki In Washington

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is in Washington today, July 22, 2009 to meet with President Obama. While there he will attend a conference with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to discuss how to further implement the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), which calls for American economic, political, and security support for Iraq. U.S. combat troops are due to depart at the end of 2011, but Baghdad and the U.S. military want advisors and assistance to last far past that date. While that seems to be guaranteed, other forms of aid are not. Then Vice-President elect Joe Biden told the Tamim provincial council on a visit to Iraq in January 2009 that with the U.S. facing a huge deficit and recovery package, Iraq cannot expect much more development money. The State Department’s Inspector General also just released a report saying that the staff at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad should be reduced, and that the Provincial Reconstruction Teams should be ended by 2011. Iraq is no longer the number one foreign policy concern of the United States as it was under the previous administration. That means it will have to increasingly find its own solutions rather than rely upon the U.S. as it has over the last six years.

Quote From Hasan Turan, Tamim Provincial Council Member On Conversation With Then-Vice President Elect Joe Biden During a January 2009 Trip to Iraq

“Biden surprised us with his message. He said the Obama administration will set off with a $1.2 trillion debt and will need to spend an additional $1 trillion to fix the economy. This means that after 2009, there will be no more money for Iraq. There are four principle issues that need to be addressed, including Kirkuk. He said: “If you fail, we will not defend democracy in Iraq. If you choose dictatorship, it’s your choice. As Americans, we don’t like to be humble, but we are forced to be. We have made mistakes in Iraq.”


A former U.S. diplomat who was also at the meeting clarified that Biden meant there would be no reconstruction money for Iraq, but that the U.S. planned to continue military and civilian advisors.

SOURCES

International Crisis Group, “Iraq and the Kurds: Trouble Alone the Trigger Line,” 7/8/09

Kaplow, Larry, “Maliki’s Fine Line,” Newsweek, 7/21/09

Parker, Sam, “The New Nuri al-Maliki,” Foreign Policy, 7/21/09

Strobel, Warren, “Report: Big cuts needed at huge Baghdad embassy that Bush built,” McClatchy Newspapers, 7/22/09

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