Inconvenient News,
       by smintheus

Thursday, April 27, 2006

  Getting the bums rush in Iraq

An interesting story is buried in tomorrow's NYT article on the visit of Rice and Rumsfeld to Iraq. If I'm reading the situation rightly, the outgoing Iraqi national security adviser, Dr. Muwaffak Al Rubaie, put a marker down in his prepared remarks at a meeting between Iraqi and American officials. That was just before Rumsfeld spoke. Dr. Rubaie stated without qualification that there will be a big reduction in American troops in Iraq later this year. Rumsfeld and the DOD, by contrast, studiously avoided comment on that proposition.

The removal of American troops has been a bone of contention between Iraq and the Bush administration for many months. As I noted recently (here), Sy Hersh has commented that the main reason that the U.S. intervened against Ibrahim al-Jaafari's attempt to continue as prime minister is that Jaafari was expected to ask the U.S. to withdraw its troops.

Months ago, the Bush administration boycotted the international meeting held in Egypt to discuss the future of Iraq. You probably didn't hear much about this rather awkward meeting because, with Bush boycotting, the U.S. media prefered to ignore it. As expected, the participants in Egypt, including the officials from Iraq, called upon the U.S. to withdraw its troops from Iraq.

So here we have another Iraqi official restating what ought to have been clear by now, that the Iraqi government wants us to get our armed forces out of their country beginning soon. For Dr. Rubaie, who is stepping down soon, this may have been the last best opportunity to make that point forcefully to the Bush administration.

In remarks today at a meeting with Mr. Rumsfeld, Iraq's national security adviser, Dr. Muwaffak Al Rubaie, said that there would be large reduction in the American troop presence by the end of the year.

"Certainly at the end of this year, there is going to be a sizeable gross reduction in U.S. troops," he said, speaking at the opening of a meeting between senior Iraqi and American officials.

He added that within the next two years, "We hope most coalition troops will go back home."

Dr. Rubaie, who has previously said that 30,000 troops could withdraw from Iraq this year, also suggested that Iraqi and American officials were working on a formal plan to turn over responsibility to Iraqi security forces as security conditions and other milestones are achieved....

Mr. Rumsfeld, who spoke after Dr. Rubaie's statement, made no comment on the Iraqi official's assertion that a large number of American troops would be withdrawn this year. He has previously expressed hope that could happen but said it would depend on improvement in security conditions and other factors....

Pentagon spokesman Eric Ruff said he had no immediate comment on Dr. Rubaie's statements.

Who says that the Bush administration takes pride in ignoring its own citizens wishes? The truth is that their considerable energies are devoted primarily to ignoring the wishes of the Iraqis.


  • Via Think Progress, I found this article from the LA Times, which quotes several Iraqi politicians expressing disgust or resentment at the unannounced and uninvited visit of Rice and Rumsfeld.

    "It would be more appropriate if they would leave us alone," said Mahmoud Othman, a senior Kurdish legislator. "Let us solve our problems by ourselves."

    By Blogger : smintheus ::, at 10:46 PM  

  • Hmmm. Wiggle room, mis-statement, peacock-strutting, or some combination?

    "Certainly at the end of this year, there is going to be a sizeable gross reduction in U.S. troops," [Dr. Muwaffak Al Rubaie] said.

    He said 'gross' when the implication was clearly 'net'. A gross reduction could mean a large single deployment of say, one Army Division. And meanwhile, we will not raise a fuss if 80% of them trickle back in quietly.

    So did he mean a net draw-down, or was he blustering somehow for the camers?

    GREAT POST though. It's a very interesting development. But you know how those diplomats haggle. ;)

    By Anonymous Quicklund, at 2:05 AM  

  • quicklund, thanks for the post. I had not given thought to the question of what he meant by gross. I suppose he is not a native English speaker, in which case all bets may be off.

    I do believe there was some element of showing off. This is perhaps his last chance to flex rhetorical muscles in that role. But I believe he must have meant for Rumsfeld to take it as a marker set down on the diplomatic board.

    I have no certainty whatever of course that actual troop reductions, or even major shifts in deployment, will follow.

    By Blogger : smintheus ::, at 11:47 AM  

  • For my readers: Oddly, this site has been locked down by a "spam-prevention robot", if you can imagine such a thing existing. It prevents me from adding any new posts until somebody on the technical support staff gets around to unlocking it. No telling how long it will take to accomplish that. In the meantime, I thought you'd like to know that you will be able to find new posts of mine at several other sites, including and

    By Blogger : smintheus ::, at 6:11 PM  

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