Shortly after embracing Barack Obama's plan to get US combat troops out of Iraq, Maliki sent a flunky out to "clarify" things--no doubt after hearing and earful.
But a spokesman for al-Maliki said his remarks "were misunderstood, mistranslated and not conveyed accurately."
Government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said the possibility of troop withdrawal was based on the continuance of security improvements, echoing statements that the White House made Friday after a meeting between al-Maliki and U.S. President Bush.
In the magazine interview, Al-Maliki said his remarks did not indicate that he was endorsing Obama over presumptive Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain.
"Who they choose as their president is the Americans' business. But it's the business of Iraqis to say what they want. And that's where the people and the government are in general agreement: The tenure of the coalition troops in Iraq should be limited," he said.
"Those who operate on the premise of short time periods in Iraq today are being more realistic," al-Maliki said.
The interview's publication came one day after the White House said President Bush and al-Maliki had agreed to include a "general time horizon" in talks about reducing American combat forces and transferring Iraqi security control across the country.
Am I the only person who believes we're going to have do this all over again? In ten or twelve years, are we going to have to send five combat divisions to Kuwait in order to take down the dastardly Maliki regime? Am I the only person who can see that Defense Secretary Bob Gates is getting everything he wants when he wants it every single day? The man is not losing--he's gaining. He wants US troops out of Iraq because his DoD can't sustain it. He wants Gitmo closed. He wants the State Department to start acting like a State Department. He wants the Congress to stay out of his way, and they do.
When was the last time Gates was blistered before Congress, by the way? Remember when Rumsfeld would sit there with a shit-eating grin and give them the "stuff happens" look?
UPDATE: I don't buy that this was a clarification. Why does the "clarification" and the retelling of what Maliki said always seem to be in favor of the Bush Administration when what he originally said was in opposition to it? That suggests pushback to me--as in, "here's what I meant to say" after someone has complained about my original statement. Especially if the "clarification" comes from CENTCOM.