Maliki Not Saying Whether ‘Trainers’ Would Be Military Or Private Contractors

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki last week suggested that he could bypass parliamentary approval of a continued American presence by asking the U.S. for “trainers,” not military troops. At the time, his aides said they would be non-military private security contractors. Days later, however, Iraq’s foreign minister said the trainers would be active-duty military, not contractors. Maliki revisited the issue on Saturday. “The existence of the trainers within the context of training doesn’t require voting by parliament but the existence of any soldier outside the agreement … or granting immunities requires their approval,” he said. However, the AP reports that Maliki “avoided saying whether the trainers would be active-duty troops or private contractors.” Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Adm. Mike Mullen said Sunday that Iraq’s indecision on the troops issue is pushing the U.S. “close to the point where a smooth withdrawal will be jeopardized.”