Published on Truthout (http://www.truth-out.org)
How Maliki and
Iran Outsmarted the on Troop Withdrawal US
Friday 16 December 2011
by: Gareth Porter, Inter Press Service  | News Analysis
The real story behind the
A central element of the Maliki-Iran strategy was the common interest that Maliki,
Maliki needed Sadr's support, which was initially based on Maliki's commitment to obtain a time schedule for
In early June 2006, a draft national reconciliation plan that circulated among Iraqi political groups included agreement on "a time schedule to pull out the troops from
Maliki's national security adviser Mowaffak Al-Rubaei revealed in a Washington Post op-ed that Maliki wanted foreign troops reduced by more than 30,000 to under 100,000 by the end of 2006 and withdrawal of "most of the remaining troops" by end of the 2007.
When the full text of the reconciliation plan was published Jun. 25, 2006, however, the commitment to a withdrawal timetable was missing.
In June 2007, senior Bush administration officials began leaking to reporters plans for maintaining what The New York Times described as "a near-permanent presence" in
Maliki immediately sent Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari to
As recounted in Linda Robinson's "Tell Me How This Ends", Zebari urged Cheney to begin negotiating the
In a meeting with then Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in September 2007, National Security Adviser Rubaie said Maliki wanted a "Status of Forces Agreement" (SOFA) that would allow U.S. forces to remain but would "eliminate the irritants that are apparent violations of Iraqi sovereignty", according Bob Woodward's "The War Within".
Maliki's national security adviser was also seeking to protect the Mahdi Army from
He explained to the Baker-Hamilton Commission that Sadr's use of military force was not a problem for Maliki, because Sadr was still part of the government.
Publicly, the Maliki government continued to assure the Bush administration it could count on a long-term military presence. Asked by NBC's Richard Engel on Jan. 24, 2008 if the agreement would provide long-term
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
But Maliki had a surprise in store for
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.
In mid-March 2007, Maliki ignored pressure from a personal visit by Cheney to cooperate in taking down the Mahdi Army and instead abruptly vetoed
Predictably, the operation ran into trouble, and within days, Iraqi officials had asked General Suleimani, the commander of the Quds Force of
A few weeks later, Maliki again prevented the
There was subtext to Suleimani's interventions. Just as Suleimani was negotiating the
In the days that followed that agreement, Iranian state news media portrayed the Iraqi crackdown in
The timing of each political diplomatic move by Maliki appears to have been determined in discussions between Maliki and top Iranian officials.
Just two days after returning from a visit to
In July, he revealed that his government was demanding the complete withdrawal of
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 realised that Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, who was then far ahead of Republican John McCain in polls, would accept the same or an even faster timetable for withdrawal. In October, Bush decided to sign the draft agreement pledging withdrawal of all
The ambitious plans of the
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"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs