Al-Maliki says Obama's plan is "more realistic"
Your buried lead this weekend in the mainstream media.
From Spiegel Online:
SPIEGEL: Would you hazard a prediction as to when most of the US troops will finally leave Iraq?In this photo released by the Iraqi Government, the Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki gestures as he speaks at a meeting with several Arab ambassadors to the United Arab Emirates in that country's capital, Abu Dhabi, Monday, July 7, 2008. (AP Photo/Iraqi Government, HO)
Maliki: As soon as possible, as far as we're concerned. U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama talks about 16 months. That, we think, would be the right timeframe for a withdrawal, with the possibility of slight changes.
SPIEGEL: Is this an endorsement for the US presidential election in November? Does Obama, who has no military background, ultimately have a better understanding of Iraq than war hero John McCain?
Maliki: Those who operate on the premise of short time periods in Iraq today are being more realistic. Artificially prolonging the tenure of US troops in Iraq would cause problems. Of course, this is by no means an election endorsement. Who they choose as their president is the Americans' business. But it's the business of Iraqis to say what they want. And that's where the people and the government are in general agreement: The tenure of the coalition troops in Iraq should be limited.
UPDATE: Al-Maliki appeared to back off this statement a bit yesterday, but today the Iraqi government spokesman issued a statement that looks like it favors the Obama plan.