BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki raised the prospect on Monday of setting a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops as part of negotiations over a new security agreement with Washington.
It was the first time the U.S.-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 give militant groups an advantage.
The security deal under negotiation will replace a U.N. mandate for the presence of U.S. troops that expires on December 31.
“Today, we are looking at the necessity of terminating the foreign presence on Iraqi lands and restoring full sovereignty,” Maliki told Arab ambassadors in blunt remarks during an official visit to Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates.
I think that pretty much ends discussion on the topic.
The simple fact of the matter is that the Iraqi people are ready for us to go. The majority of the American people are ready for us to go. The VAST MAJORITY OF THE WORLD wants us to go.
Obama wants us to go. McCain doesn’t.
Why are we even still having this discussion?
“One of the two basic topics is either to have a memorandum of understanding for the departure of forces or a memorandum of understanding to set a timetable for the presence of the forces, so that we know (their presence) will end in a specific time.”
Maliki was responding to questions from the ambassadors about the security negotiations with the United States. The exchange was shown on Iraqiya state television.
U.S. officials in Baghdad had no immediate comment. Last month Maliki caught Washington off guard when he said talks on the security deal were at a “dead end” after he complained Iraq’s sovereignty was being infringed by U.S. demands.
Oil and Terror. That’s why some want to stay. We don’t yet have the agreements in place that were the major impetus for starting this whole debacle. And we don’t have carte blanche to go in and abduct or kill anyone we want. Those are the three main sticking points, extra-legal right to the Iraqi people (that we think are bad), ownership of Iraqi oil (which we think is good), and immunity from Iraqi courts (which we would rather avoid, since our mercenaries have done lots of bad things).
All of these can be resolved by an Obama presidency or exacerbated by a McCain one. Vote accordingly.
UPDATE: One of the sticking points has been resolved, generally…
BAGHDAD — Iraq’s foreign minister said Tuesday that the United States had agreed to lift immunity for foreign security contractors operating in Iraq, making them subject to prosecution under Iraqi law, according to Iraqi politicians.
In a briefing for lawmakers on the status of a complex security agreement being negotiated with the United States, the foreign minister, Hoshyar Zebari, said Iraq had insisted on ending the immunity for private security companies, according to three Iraqi politicians who were present. American troops are operating under a United Nations mandate that expires in December.
The private security companies, like Blackwater Worldwide, have reputations of using excessive force in protecting diplomatic and other foreign clients, and currently enjoy immunity from Iraqi law. That immunity became a political issue last fall, after a Blackwater shooting in Baghdad in September left 17 Iraqis dead, according to Iraqi investigators.