Iraq requires US Pullout Timetable

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouiri al-Maliki tossed a bombshell today. In a news conference about the still-secret US-Iraqi talks, which began in March, Maliki for the first time said that the chances of securing the pact are just about nil, and instead he said Iraq will seek a limited, ad hoc renewal of the US authority to remain in Iraq, rather than a broad-based accord.

More important, Maliki and his top security adviser, Mouwaffak al-Rubaie added that Iraq intends to link even a limited accord to a timetable for the withdrawal of US forces. It was the first time the US-backed Shi'ite-led government has floated the idea of a timetable for the removal of American forces from Iraq. The Bush administration has always opposed such a move, saying it would benefit militant groups.

Maliki's statement is a big deal. At a minimum, it presents an enormous problem for Bush and John McCain, who are arguing for an indefinite US stay in Iraq til "victory," and who oppose a timetable.

[Excerpt of an article by Robert Dreyfuss, The Nation]

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