Thursday, May 25, 2006

"The Decider"

Bush said in March that a future president would decide when American forces left Iraq. Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki may assume that role as a decisive head of a government.

The Australian:
IRAQ'S army and police will be able to assume responsibility for security from US-led forces across the whole country by late next year, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said.

Mr Maliki's statement appeared to firm up his envisaged timetable for foreign troop withdrawals compared with comments on Monday when he said Iraqi forces could take charge of security in 16 of Iraq's 18 provinces by the end of 2006.

"Our forces are capable of taking over security in all provinces in Iraq within a year and a half," he said today in a brief written statement issued by his office after talks with Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen in Baghdad.

He did not make clear whether this meant foreign forces, now numbering about 150,000, including 500 Danes, would then be able to withdraw. The United States and its allies say they will pull out their troops once Iraqi forces can do the job.
The AP's lede notes what went unsaid:
BAGHDAD — Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki said Wednesday that he believed his nation's forces were capable of taking over security within 18 months, but he did not mention any possible timetable for U.S.-led coalition forces to leave.

In Washington, the White House said it was premature to talk about withdrawals.
Nonetheless, this is a major development. I wonder what George and Tony are talking about today.


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