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July 07, 2008



Arabs stepping up in Iraq... because they expect US drawdown?

I think it has more to do with their recognition that the insurgency is on it's last legs, and whether they like it or not Iraq is going to survive. And eventually prosper. And they want Iraqis to forget what shitheads they have been the last 5 years.

When will you come to the same conclusion, Marc?


expectation of an American drawdown would shift the incentives of all the actors and lead them to change their behavior in a productive fashion.

Could you please be more specific as to what "productive" means?


After 5 years of sowing chaos and conflict, the neighbours are now accepting the new Iraq and constitution's fully and fairly representative DEMOCRACY? Right on their doorsteps?

Surely, the most signicant development in the Arab ME since the advent of Al Jazeera?

Not to mention a triumph for President Bush's troop ESCALATION (er, not withdrawal, Marc) at the end of 2006 in defiance of all domestic political logic!


Even though I understand the need for Arab participation with Iraq, for one the need for Sunnie government to reconcile with a Shi'a Baghdad if for nothing else it's PR value. I have many reservation with the idea of the US pulling back so the dictatorial regimes to increase their influence over Baghdad. There is no democratic value in that. I would rather see Iraq come closer to Europe, Asia, and the US that cede the newly minted Iraq to the lions of the peninsula

seth edenbaum

"that the expectation of an American drawdown..."
No. That the expectation that Iraqi's would demand one...

Iraq's national security adviser said Tuesday his country will not accept any security deal with the United States unless it contains specific dates for the withdrawal of U.S.-led forces.

The comments by Mouwaffak al-Rubaie were the strongest yet by an Iraqi official about the deal now under negotiation with U.S. officials. They came a day after Iraq's prime minister first said publicly that he expects the pending troop deal with the United States to have some type of timetable for withdrawal.

President Bush has said he opposes a timetable. The White House said Monday it did not believe Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki was proposing a rigid timeline for U.S. troop withdrawals.

U.S. officials had no immediate comment Tuesday on al-Rubaie's statement.

seth edenbaum



The pullback negotiations chatter and Maliki's supposedly tough stance in US troop agreement talks ... all that strikes me as part of a drive to boost his & his government's 'Arab' credentials (on the back of the surge successes, and of him dealing with al-Sadr etc), just when Arab countries start upgrading their relations with him, perhaps with Iranian influence in mind more than anything else. Question is what's cause or effect, but there's really a lot going on at the same time.


It's an election year, and al-Maliki is pandering to Arab Iraqis by bashing the US. Is my take.


Hasn't this story of the Arab countries reaching out to Iraq been going on for a couple years now? I think I remember in 2006 or 2007 stories about how the Saudis and Gulf States were going to get more involved because they were afraid of the sectarian war spilling over into their countries and wanted to support the Sunnis against the Shiites? Didn't seem to amount to much back then. Hopefully the offering of ambassadors actually goes somewhere because I think one reason why Iraq keeps such close ties to Iran is because they and the U.S. are the only ones that accept a Shiite led Iraq. Perhaps if they get more support from their other neighbors they could wean themselves from Iran more, although they'll probably have good relations as long as the SIIC and Kurds are main players in the government.

As for Maliki's motivations I just wrote a piece about this (click on name for link to my blog if interested). I think he's gotten a little carried away thinking that the Iraqi Army are going to be able to defend the country sooner rather than later, therefore Iraq doesn't need a large and long-term U.S. presence anymore. It's also a way to build up his nationalist credentials to try to get some votes in the upcoming elections, Dawa is afterall divided and weak compared to the Sadrists and SIIC. Finally, many in Baghdad think Washington can be easily pressured into better terms because Bush wants a U.S.-Iraq agreement before he leaves.

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