Today, Der Spiegel reports that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has endorsed a 16-month timetable for the United States to withdraw from Iraq:
In an interview with Der Spiegel released on Saturday, Maliki said he wanted U.S. troops to withdraw from Iraq as soon as possible.
“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.” [...]
Asked if he supported Obama’s ideas more than those of John McCain, Republican presidential hopeful, Maliki said he did not want to recommend who people should vote for.
Whoever is thinking about the shorter term is closer to reality. Artificially extending the stay of U.S. troops would cause problems. [...]
“The Americans have found it difficult to agree on a concrete timetable for the exit because it seems like an admission of defeat to them. But it isn’t,” Maliki told Der Spiegel.
Not only is the plan now accepted by Iraqis, but as a Center for American Progress report explains, it is also logistically workable — despite what reporters such as ABC’s Martha Raddatz have suggested. Maliki’s comments come as Obama begins his trip in the Middle East, which will include Iraq. Full interview with Maliki here. (HT: Democracy Arsenal)
Susan Rice, Obama’s senior national security adviser, has put out a statement in response to Maliki’s comments: “Senator Obama welcomes Prime Minister Maliki’s support for a 16 month timeline for the redeployment of U.S combat brigades. This presents an important opportunity to transition to Iraqi responsibility, while restoring our military and increasing our commitment to finish the fight in Afghanistan.”
,ABC News reports that the White House accidentally sent around a Reuters story about Maliki’s interview to its “extensive distribution list.”