Friday, August 18, 2006

Iraq PM Says Forces Ready If US Withdraws

The violence in Iraq is worse than ever but Prime Minister Maliki suggests that Iraq's forces are ready to take over security. Here's the story from Amit R. Paley of The Washington Post:
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said Thursday that Iraqi forces were prepared to take over security in most provinces if the U.S. military withdraws, as at least 23 Iraqis and an American soldier were killed in violence across the country.

The bloodshed, which included a car bomb in Baghdad that killed at least eight people, came as U.S. and Iraqi forces attempt to thwart the growing sectarian violence engulfing the country.

The U.S.-led military coalition has set no timetable for removing troops from Iraq, but Maliki said in a statement that Iraqis "have become capable of taking over security tasks in the majority of the provinces and that they will be able to fill the vacuum in case the Multi-National Forces withdraw."

I'm curious what this means. It could be just a prearranged PR statement for the benefit of Bush. It could presage a September or October surprise of a US withdrawal (perhaps freeing Bush for an attack on Iran before or after the midterm elections). It could be Maliki sending a quiet shot across the bow of Bush's 'stay the course' rhetoric. It could be Maliki trying to hang on to his job before the Iraqis revolt en masse. Or Maliki could simply be hallucinating. Take your pick because we fell into the rabbit hole some time ago and rational suggestions don't necessarily apply any more. Except in one area: the American people have no particularly good reason to trust Bush, Cheney or Rumsfeld. Just three years ago this month, Republicans and their media friends were promising cheap oil as a result of the invasion of Iraq. They were also wrong on two or three dozen other predictions made months earlier. American foreign policy remains in free fall.

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