Tuesday, July 22, 2008

U.S.-Iraq Negotiations Update

The Associated Press and USA Today covered some important background information to the negotiations for a security and diplomatic deal between Iraq and the U.S. on July 20.

USA Today pointed out that calls for a withdrawal by Iraq are for U.S. combat troops to leave. U.S. advisers that are embedded with most Iraqi battalions and some police units would stay for years afterwards. These advisers would also need their own American support and logistics troops as well. In total, that could be tens of thousands of U.S. soldiers and Marines remaining in Iraq.

The Associated Press noted that Iraq is playing politics with its demands for a withdrawal by the U.S. Baghdad believes that President Bush is desperate for an agreement before he leaves office at the beginning of 2009. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s recent comments about supporting Obama are part of this strategy to play Bush off of the Democratic candidate. Maliki was reported to have said, “Let’s squeeze them [the U.S.,]” to one of his advisers. The plan seems to be working. Since July 7 when Maliki made the first announcement for a withdrawal, Bush, who has said he is against any withdrawal timetable, has agreed to “aspirational goals” and a “general time horizon” for U.S. troops to leave Iraq. The U.S. has also gone from calling for two long-term agreements that would allow American forces broad freedom in Iraq, to probably signing a one-year memorandum of understanding that includes limits.

As noted earlier, calls for withdrawal increase Maliki’s nationalist standing in an Iraqi election year. Negotiations between the two sides are continuing and there will probably be more twists and turns before anything is signed.

SOURCES

Dagher, Sam, “U.S. and Iraq near a ‘bridge’ deal on status of U.S. troops,” Christian Science Monitor, 7/14/08

Hunt, Terence, “US, Iraq seek ‘general time horizon’ on troop cuts,” Associated Press, 7/18/08

Levinson, Charles, “Analysis: U.S. advisers could stay long after troops leave Iraq,” USA Today, 7/20/08

Reid, Robert, “Analysis: Iraq playing US politics for best deal,” Associated Press, 7/20/08

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