Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Important Statement from Iraqi Leaders

Meeting in Cairo, leaders of various Iraqi factions issued a key document late Tuesday, in which the group agreed on "calling for the withdrawal of foreign troops according to a timetable, through putting in place an immediate national program to rebuild the armed forces ... control the borders and the security situation," as well as ending terrorist attacks.

Those in attendance at the meeting include Iraqi president Jalal Talabani, P.M. Ibrahim al-Jaafari, and other Shiite, Kurd and Sunni political leaders. Their final communique recognizes the goal of a timed withdrawal of coalition troops, based on the implementation of Iraqi security forces. Yesterday, Iraq's interior minister suggested that a withdrawal should be possible by the end of 2006.

The document issued by the group condemned terrorism, noting "Though resistance is a legitimate right for all people, terrorism does not represent resistance. Therefore, we condemn terrorism and acts of violence, killing and kidnapping targeting Iraqi citizens and humanitarian, civil, government institutions, national resources and houses of worship."

This is an important development, the impact of which should not be minimized. Our political leaders have often said that if a sovereign Iraqi government requested a withdrawal, it would happen. A loyal reader emailed me just today with some appropriate quotes: in an interview with the New York Times back in January, President Bush was "asked if, as a matter of principle, the United States would pull out of Iraq at the request of a new government." His response was "Absolutely. This is a sovereign government. They're on their feet." He noted further that he didn't think such a step would be taken until Iraqi troops were fully trained.

Also back on January 14, then-Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage had this exchange in an interview on NPR:

"INSKEEP: Granting that you think the new government will want Americans to stay, what if the new government asked the US to leave?

ARMITAGE: Then we would leave.

INSKEEP: Even if it's a short timetable?

ARMITAGE: If the government of a sovereign Iraq asked us to leave, we would leave, period. We have testified, my colleague Paul Wolfowitz and I. We've said clearly to the US Congress if that circumstance exists, then we would leave, period. There's no qualifications. No weasel words. You've got the answer to your question."

I don't know if there's something "there" here or not. As Tim F. remarks over at Balloon Juice, "If this obvious olive branch in the direction of the Sunni resistance plays out as intended then we could very well pull out and win, in the sense of leaving behind a state that’s capable of managing its ethnically pluralistic affairs without us...." It could happen.


At 6:45 AM, Anonymous Charles Amico said...

Let's all hope on this Thanksgiving eve that this does come to pass. Iraq's people deserve this as do the American soldiers and their families who have sacrificed so much.

Happy Thanksgiving Jeremy. Loved your Blog this year.

At 7:06 AM, Blogger JBD said...

I agree Charles, and thanks. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours as well!


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