Thursday, June 19, 2008

Iraqi Foreign Minister Tells Obama: Setting A Timetable For Withdrawal From Iraq Would Endanger The Region

Excerpted from the Washington Post:

The situation in Iraq has changed dramatically, with violence down 75 percent from its peak and the Iraqi government and army in control of most of the country. But Mr. Obama has not altered his position: He still proposes withdrawing most U.S. troops according to a fixed timetable, set to the most rapid pace at which commanders have said American forces could be pulled out.

Iraqi foreign minister, Hoshyar Zebari, finds Obama's proposal worrying. In a meeting with Post editors and reporters Tuesday, he said that after all the pain and sacrifices of the past five years, "we are just turning the corner in Iraq." A precipitous withdrawal, he said, "would create a huge vacuum and undo all the gains and achievements. And the others" -- enemies of the United States -- "would celebrate."

Mr. Zebari said he told Obama in a recent telephone conversation that "Iraq is not an island." In other words, an American withdrawal that destabilized the country would also roil the region around it and embolden U.S. adversaries such as al-Qaeda and Iran. "We have a deadly enemy," Mr. Zebari said. "When he sees that you commit yourself to a certain timetable, he will use this to increase pressure and attacks, to make it look as though he is forcing you out. We have many actors who would love to take advantage of that opportunity."

The foreign minister said "my message" to Mr. Obama "was very clear. . . . Really, we are making progress. I hope any actions you will take will not endanger this progress."

He said he was reassured by the candidate's response, which caused him to think that Mr. Obama might not differ all that much from Mr. McCain...

- Read full article at the Washington Post - H/T- Wall Street Journal, Best of the Web

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