Moral Outrage
Whew! God help us!

Iraq and Iran outsmarted the U.S. on troop withdrawal

The real story behind the U.S. withdrawal is how a clever strategy of deception and diplomacy adopted by Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, in cooperation with Iran, outmaneuvered Bush and the U.S. military leadership and got the United States to sign the U.S.-Iraq withdrawal agreement.

A central element of the Maliki-Iran strategy was the common interest that Maliki, Iran and anti-American cleric Moqtada al-Sadr shared in ending the U.S. occupation, despite their differences over other issues. Maliki needed Sadr’s support, which was initially based on Maliki’s commitment to obtain a time schedule for U.S. troops’ withdrawal from Iraq.

Publicly, the Maliki government assured the Bush administration it could count on a long-term military presence. Confident that it was going to get a South Korea-style SOFA, the Bush administration gave the Iraqi government a draft on Mar. 7, 2008 that provided for no limit on the number of U.S. troops or the duration of their presence. Nor did it give Iraq any control over U.S. military operations.

But Maliki had a surprise in store for Washington. A series of dramatic moves by Maliki and Iran over the next few months showed that there had been an explicit understanding between the two governments to prevent the U.S. military from launching major operations against the Mahdi Army, and to reach an agreement with Sadr on ending the Mahdi Army’s role in return for assurances that Maliki would demand the complete withdrawal of U.S. forces.

Just two days after returning from a visit to Tehran in June 2008, Maliki complained publicly about U.S. demands for indefinite access to military bases, control of Iraqi airspace and immunity from prosecution for U.S. troops and private contractors. In July, he revealed that his government was demanding the complete withdrawal of U.S. troops on a timetable.

The Bush administration was in a state of shock. From July to October, it pretended that it could simply refuse to accept the withdrawal demand, while trying vainly to pressure Maliki to back down.

In the end, however, Bush administration officials realized that Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama would accept the same or an even faster timetable for withdrawal. In October, Bush decided to sign the draft agreement pledging withdrawal of all U.S. troops by the end of 2011.

The ambitious plans of the U.S. military to use Iraq to dominate the Middle East militarily and politically had been foiled by the very regime the United States had installed, and the officials behind the U.S. scheme, had been clueless about what was happening until it was too late.

[Excerpt of article by Gareth Porter ipsnews.net]

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