Thursday, January 18, 2007

A follow-up on the previous post--Maliki might not be on board.

In the previous post, I discussed why Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki likely cannot or will not fulfill all his responsibilities--as defined by Bush--under the "new plan" for Iraq. Late last night I saw an article on the Washington Post website which provided further evidence as to this conclusion.

The basic theme of the article was that Maliki is pissed off at the Bush administration and is not going to simply do what he is told, as shown by these excerpts:
The head of Iraq's Shiite Muslim-led government defended his country's independence and sovereignty and called on U.S. leaders to show faith in his ability to lead.

Maliki disputed President Bush's remarks broadcast Tuesday that the execution of former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein "looked like it was kind of a revenge killing" and took exception to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's Senate testimony last week that Maliki's administration was on "borrowed time."

The prime minister said statements such as Rice's "give morale boosts for the terrorists and push them toward making an extra effort and making them believe they have defeated the American administration," Maliki said. "But I can tell you that they have not defeated the Iraqi government."

Speaking through an interpreter to a group of reporters for an hour in his offices in Baghdad's fortified Green Zone, Maliki found several ways to say that Iraq is beholden to no country. He defended Iraq's constitutional right to the death penalty, its commitment to dialogue with Iran and Syria despite U.S. opposition to those governments, and its determination to use Iraqi troops to lead the latest effort to pacify Baghdad.
That sure sounds like Maliki is determined to 1 ) make sure that Iraq, not the U.S., is in charge of the "new plan" for Iraq, and 2) show that he is not just going to do what the Bush administration wants.

Or is that just what the Bush administration wants? Tune in for the next post...and remember the quote from Rice.

Maliki also made it clear what he thought should have been done previously and must be done now in order for U.S. troops to leave:
"If we succeed in implementing the agreement between us to speed up the equipping and providing weapons to our military forces, I think that within three to six months our need for the American troops will dramatically go down. That's on the condition that there are real strong efforts to support our military forces and equipping them and arming them," Maliki said.
In the interview Wednesday, Maliki said many American and Iraqi lives would have been spared if the Iraqi forces had been better equipped.
One Maliki aide said the prime minister wants "heavier weapons" and is concerned that Iraqi security forces are outgunned by militias and insurgents.

"Basically the level of weapons in the current army is really a disgrace," said the aide, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak publicly about the matter. In many cases, gunmen are "definitely better armed" than the police and the army, the aide said.
Kevin Drum's interpretation of Maliki's statements is spot on: "Just give us all your guns and then get out. We'll take care of the rest."

But why is Maliki getting so pissed off in public? The answer given in the next post goes something like this: the Bush administration is setting Maliki up to be the scapegoat for our withdrawal, and Maliki is getting his shots in now in an attempt to keep from getting that blame.


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