Iraqi prime minister suggests time-table; immediately disappears into mysterious car, never again to be seen

Just kidding. I hope. In to-day’s Washington Post, Sudarsan Raghavan reports that

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has for the first time suggested establishing a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops, a step that the Bush administration has long opposed.

Maliki floated the idea on Monday during a visit to the United Arab Emirates, where he spoke with Arab ambassadors about a security pact being negotiated to determine the future role of U.S. troops in Iraq. The agreement would replace a U.N. mandate authorizing the presence of the troops, which is set to expire Dec. 31.

One should think that this might serve as a sign that we could start contemplating actually withdrawing our troops, rather than simply arguing disingenuously about such policy in political campaign speeches. However,

A U.S. Embassy official, speaking on condition of anonymity, downplayed Maliki’s comments, saying that he was not referring to a fixed timetable, but was speaking more generally to convey opposition to any large and long-term presence of troops or U.S. bases. The Bush administration has long said that a timetable could benefit insurgents or Iraq’s neighbors.

Allow the Iraqi people to control their own destiny? Heaven forfend.

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