Iraqi Factions Seek Timetable for U.S. Pullout
By HASSAN M. FATTAH
CAIRO, Nov. 21 - For the first time, Iraq's political factions on Monday collectively called for a timetable for withdrawal of foreign forces, in a moment of consensus that comes as the Bush administration battles pressure at home to commit itself to a pullout schedule.
The announcement, made at the conclusion of a reconciliation conference here backed by the Arab League, was a public reaching out by Shiites, who now dominate Iraq's government, to Sunni Arabs on the eve of parliamentary elections that have been put on shaky ground by weeks of sectarian violence.
About 100 Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish leaders, many of whom will run in the election on Dec. 15, signed a closing memorandum on Monday that "demands a withdrawal of foreign troops on a specified timetable, dependent on an immediate national program for rebuilding the security forces," the statement said.
"The Iraqi people are looking forward to the day when foreign forces will leave Iraq, when its armed and security forces will be rebuilt and when they can enjoy peace and stability and an end to terrorism," it continued.
Is the timing of this entirely too coincidental or what?
Bayan Jabr, Iraq's interior minister, thinks U.S. led forces can safely redeploy by the end of next year.
"By mid-next year, we will be 75 percent done in building our forces, and by the end of next year it will be fully ready," Mr. Jabr told Al Jazeera, the pan-Arab news channel.
How convenient. The summer before America's '06 elections, the troops will start marching home in droves.
So what's your guess? Is Uncle Karl pulling out what's left of his hair, or was the whole thing his idea?
I mean, if you tell the Iraqis to ask you to leave, you're not cutting and running are you?
And you can "stay the course" long enough to "get the job done" and still have most of the troops back in time for Thanksgiving. Heck, most of them will be able to vote in their home districts.
That could play out two ways. The troop vote could be a decisive factor in a lot of congressional races.
On a related note…
Over at HuffPo, Paul Reickhoff posts an e-mail from a buddy of his serving as an officer in Ramadi, Iraq.
I wish I had the time or energy or memory capacity to describe to you how wrong this whole thing has gone. It's just as you described it a couple years ago. We *can* make a difference here, and i believe in the mission as it looks on paper. But your president and his brain-dead colleagues aren't even trying to give us what we need to do it…
It doesn't sound like Paul's buddy is too impressed with his Commander in Chief.
I haven't heard any MSM jabber on the Iraqi's announcement yet. But it's still early in the day. Imus is signing off from MSNBC. If this isn't the top story after the break, something's not quite right.