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Al-Maliki Remarks on Obama Send White House, McCain Spinning


In an interview with the German magazine Spiegel Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said he supports Barack Obama's 16-month timeline for withdrawal from Iraq:

"When asked in and interview with SPIEGEL when he thinks US troops should leave Iraq, Maliki responded "as soon as possible, as far as we are concerned." He then continued: 'US presidential candidate Barack Obama talks about 16 months. That, we think, would be the right timeframe for a withdrawal, with the possibility of slight changes.' Maliki was careful to back away from outright support for Obama. 'Of course, this is by no means an election endorsement. Who they choose as their president is the Americans' business,' he said. But then, apparently referring to Republican candidate John McCain's more open-ended Iraq policy, Maliki said: 'Those who operate on the premise of short time periods in Iraq today are being more realistic. Artificially prolonging the tenure of US troops in Iraq would cause problems.'"

ObamatourHere's the full interview.

A White House employee accidentally sent an email touting the interview to its internal distribution list, according to ABC's Jake Tapper.

After Maliki's remarks were seized upon by the media,an al-Maliki spokesperson made a clarification: "...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."

The clarification was reportedly prompted by a call from the White House, according to Talking Points Memo: "The gist of the White House's explanation is that the Iraqis and Maliki specifically were simply too unsophisticated to grasp the implications of Maliki's remarks."

According to TPM, the NYT throws water on any notion of a mistranslation. TPM writes: "The interpreter was al Maliki's, not Der Spiegel's. And Der Spiegel provided the Times with a tape recording of the interview, which was then independently translated and confirmed the accuracy of the original Der Spiegel account. "

Spiegel issued a release saying that the publication "sticks to its version of the conversation."

MccainA Republican strategist to the McCain campaign (the GOP candidate appeared over the weekend at a Yankees game with Rudy Giuliani) summed up the series of events thusly: We're fucked.

The McCain campaign responded awkwardly to the news of the al-Maliki interview:

"Today, McCain 2008 Senior Foreign Policy Advisor Randy Scheunemann issued the following statement: 'The difference between John McCain and Barack Obama is that Barack Obama advocates an unconditional withdrawal that ignores the facts on the ground and the advice of our top military commanders. John McCain believes withdrawal must be based on conditions on the ground. Prime Minister Maliki has repeatedly affirmed the same view, and did so again today. Timing is not as important as whether we leave with victory and honor, which is of no apparent concern to Barack Obama. The fundamental truth remains that Senator McCain was right about the surge and Senator Obama was wrong. We would not be in the position to discuss a responsible withdrawal today if Senator Obama's views had prevailed.'"

The Obama campaign took the opportunity to attack McCain's positions on not only Iraq, but Afghanistan and Iran as well. Obama arrived in Iraq this morning: "The presumptive Democratic Party candidate discussed a number of matters with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, including the future of the U.S. military presence and the possibility of reducing troop numbers, Sawt al-Iraq news agency reported on its Arabic-language Web site."

A recent AP report, AFTER THE JUMP...

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  1. Barack Obama travels to Europe & the Middle East to meet with it's nations leaders.

    John McCain goes to Yankees game.

    Posted by: JJ | Jul 21, 2008 9:02:57 AM

  2. Well, that "experience" and McCain and the Republicans can't figure out what the Iraqis want. Maybe they should ask Mitt Romney...oh, no, he's for economic issues...well, ask Joe Lieberman...he belongs to Baby Bush.

    Posted by: Derrick from Philly | Jul 21, 2008 10:31:07 AM

  3. I don't really give a rat's ass what Al Malaki wants. We should leave when our Generals say we are done not some Jackass we have put in power. Secondly, I hope when they say leave that doesn't mean leave the Base we have built and paid for with the lives of 4,000 men. If this stupid war gets us anything it better get us a strategic base in the heart of the Middle East. We should also take a Hald a trillion dollars in oils as compensation for relieving them of Sadam.

    Posted by: Jason | Jul 21, 2008 11:09:51 AM

  4. Go on witcha' bad self, JASON! You're gonna' make sure this American Empire survives, expands and flourishes...even when the Chinese grow to own half of it.

    Posted by: Derrick from Philly | Jul 21, 2008 11:19:36 AM

  5. John McCain doesn't really give a rat's ass what Al "Malaki" wants. He says we should leave when our Generals says we are done, and not when the legitimate civilian President of Iraq, put in place by the Bush Administration, says so!

    Secondly, I hope when we say "leave" we mean that we're picking up and taking the base we've built and paid for with the lives of 4000 Americans. If this stupid war gets us anything, it better get us a chance to renew our standing and respect around the world, especially in the Muslim world, starting by NOT having a permanent "strategic" base in the Middle East.

    Also, we should give Iraq about a trillion dollars to pay for the destruction of their cities, towns, villages, millions of dollars worth of precious artwork, and countless ancient artifacts we've carelessly destroyed since relieving them of "Sadam".

    Jason: *smooch*

    Posted by: JeffRob | Jul 21, 2008 11:37:31 AM

  6. McSame is LAME

    Posted by: KFLO | Jul 21, 2008 1:40:11 PM

  7. Good on you, Jeffrob and Derrick. You both said everything I wanted to.

    Posted by: Sami | Jul 21, 2008 2:28:24 PM

  8. I don't think either candidate should be meeting with foreign leaders until they are elected. It can only stir up more trouble for our diplomatic corps who, regardless of our political bent and views, are really the only ones who know on a day to day basis what's up around the world. They and the military brass should be allowed to do their jobs without having to deal with the upcoming election.

    Posted by: thevegasstyleguy | Jul 21, 2008 2:29:08 PM

  9. who cares how experienced McCain is,
    and how many times he's been to Iraq.
    He's still an idiot..
    in reference to "the Iraqi-Pakistan border"

    Obama might not have ever been to Iraq before but at least the man is intelligent enough to know his geography..

    Posted by: Jesse | Jul 21, 2008 4:23:19 PM

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