by Amir Taheri, NYPost

WHILE campaigning in public for a speedy withdrawal of US troops from Iraq, Sen. Barack Obama has tried in private to persuade Iraqi leaders to delay an agreement on a draw-down of the American military presence.

According to Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, Obama made his demand for delay a key theme of his discussions with Iraqi leaders in Baghdad in July.

“He asked why we were not prepared to delay an agreement until after the US elections and the formation of a new administration in Washington,” Zebari said in an interview.

Obama insisted that Congress should be involved in negotiations on the status of US troops – and that it was in the interests of both sides not to have an agreement negotiated by the Bush administration in its “state of weakness and political confusion.”

“However, as an Iraqi, I prefer to have a security agreement that regulates the activities of foreign troops, rather than keeping the matter open.” Zebari says.

Though Obama claims the US presence is “illegal,” he suddenly remembered that Americans troops were in Iraq within the legal framework of a UN mandate. His advice was that, rather than reach an accord with the “weakened Bush administration,” Iraq should seek an extension of the UN mandate.

While in Iraq, Obama also tried to persuade the US commanders, including Gen. David Petraeus, to suggest a “realistic withdrawal date.” They declined.

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Pledged – Obama and Iraq.
August 1, 2008, 4:07 am
Filed under: Obama, national security disaster | Tags: , , , ,

By Erik Swabb, NRO

Those expecting Sen. Barack Obama to get the United States out of Iraq would be wise to look closely at his plan: Not only would it fail to “end the war,” it would replace Gen. David Petraeus’s successful strategy with an approach that was previously tried unsuccessfully. Obama’s plan presents the worst possible scenario: the loss of U.S. lives for the wrong strategy. For those of us who served in Iraq when this tragedy occurred earlier in the war, it is a prospect too disturbing to contemplate.

Although Obama has promised a 16-month timetable to withdraw U.S. troops, two aspects of his plan put this promise in doubt. First, he has only called for removing all “combat brigades.” This does not include support troops, special-operations forces, and trainers, even though these soldiers can see just as much combat. Consequently, Obama could leave a substantial number of troops in Iraq without breaking his pledge.

Second, Obama has proposed enduring missions for a “residual force” that require numerous service members to remain in Iraq. After the withdrawal of the combat brigades, U.S. forces would continue to conduct three tasks: striking al-Qaeda in Iraq, protecting U.S. personnel, and training the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF), as long as Iraqis make political progress. Obama’s own adviser on Iraq estimates that the remaining troops could total 80,000. Obama has declared that the residual force would be “entirely conditions-based,” so the number could be even higher. Unlike the combat brigades, this force would have no timetable for withdrawal.

Moreover, the troops that stay behind would continue to suffer casualties if they vigorously pursue the missions that Obama has given them. Operations against hard-core terrorists in urban areas are risky by their nature. They require armored forces as backup to avoid tragedies similar to the “Black Hawk down” incident in Somalia; as these combat brigades withdraw from Iraq, special-operations units would be more vulnerable.
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