Maliki Explicitly Endorses Obama’s Iraq Plan

This is huge:

In an interview with SPIEGEL, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said Barack Obama’s 16 timeframe for a withdrawal from Iraq is the right one.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki supports US presidential candidate Barack Obama’s plan to withdraw US troops from Iraq within 16 months. When asked in and interview with SPIEGEL when he thinks US troops should leave Iraq, Maliki responded “as soon as possible, as far as we are concerned.” He then continued: “US 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.”

Maliki was careful to back away from outright support for Obama. “Of course, this is by no means an election endorsement. Who they choose as their president is the Americans’ business,” he said. But then, apparently referring to Republican candidate John McCain’s more open-ended Iraq policy, Maliki said: “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.”

It will be interesting to see how the Obama and McCain campaigns play this one. Though most Americans want the US out of Iraq as soon as possible, I think McCain’s strategy has been to plant doubts in the minds of Americans about the wisdom of an early withdrawal from Iraq. Maliki seems to have taken that issue off the table — can McCain really say that we should leave our troops in Iraq even if the Iraqi president doesn’t want them there? No, he’ll have to concede the point. Especially given the fact the fact now the Bush administration is talking about “time horizons” in Iraq and increasing troop levels in Afghanistan, just as Obama has proposed.

If Obama has essentially won this argument, I suspect that foreign policy will become less of an issue in the campaign and the economy will become an even more pressing issue for the candidates. That’s not good news for Mr. I Don’t Understand Economics.

Things are looking good.

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