Very strange. There were 144 MPs onboard yesterday; sounds like there’ll be considerably fewer next week, when they’re hoping to start debate on the bill. Either Sadr’s people lied about the contents to get some of them to sign on or else Maliki and/or Cheney leaned on them to switch their votes because the enthusiasm has very quickly waned.
Several legislators, including those loyal to Maliki, said they doubted that the effort would succeed at a time when Iraqi troops still rely heavily on U.S. firepower. The most prominent political parties in Iraq — such as Maliki’s Dawa party; the Shiite group known as the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq; the Iraqi Islamic Party, a leading Sunni group; and prominent Kurdish factions — appear to oppose setting specific dates for withdrawal. And even if such dates were fixed, it is unclear whether that would compel the United States to obey them.
“I don’t think it’s a good idea,” said Hachim al-Hassani, a secular Sunni from the Iraqi National List and a former speaker of parliament. “Unless we complete building our forces so we are capable of defending the country and bringing security to the country, then we are not ready for something like this. A premature withdrawal could lead to a civil war in Iraq.”
Ali al-Adeeb, a lawmaker from the Dawa party and an aide to Maliki, said any timetable for American withdrawal should be accompanied by a timetable for training and equipping the Iraqi security forces…
There was also some disagreement over the terms of proposed timetable legislation. Kurdish lawmaker Mahmoud Othman told the Associated Press he had agreed to back the measure on the condition that it included an accompanying timeline for the buildup of Iraqi forces, but this was not included in the draft. Othman called the omission a “deception.”
Hassan al-Shimmari, a Shiite who leads the Fadhila Party in parliament, also signed the petition and had similar concerns.
Training the Iraqi army only solves half the problem. ABC News interviewed Iraqi NSA Mowaffaq al-Rubaie about the other half earlier today and got some unusually specific answers. Add this to last night’s list of notable achievements by Pelosi and Rice:
Mowaffak al Rubaie, the national security advisor to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki, told ABC News Thursday that Syria is continuing to harbor and support Islamist militants responsible for killing both Iraqis and Americans.
Al Rubaie, who is in the United States for official meetings in Washington and at the United Nations in New York, said Iraqi officials had presented a detailed intelligence dossier to the Syrian government of insurgent activity on Syrian territory. The information included exact locations of terrorist training camps in Syria and the names, addresses and photographs of insurgent leaders living in Syria.
The Syrians have taken no action on the camps, and on the matter of the insurgents, the response is, “He’s not in Syria,” according to al Rubaie.
Rubaie also claims the Iraqi parliament has cancelled the first month of its summer vacation. This is quoteworthy, too:
Rubaie said he had productive meetings with members of Congress in Washington, but he was concerned some members held “entrenched” views dictated more by domestic U.S. politics than by the “reality on the ground in Iraq.”
I wonder who he has in mind.
Jalal Talabani says they’ll need one more year, or maybe two, before the army will be ready and Iraqis can “say goodbye to our friends.” Meanwhile, Maj. Gen. Mixon says he’s already shorthanded in jihadi HQ, a.k.a. Diyala province, and that while he’s made progress, he won’t be able to “get the security situation moving” until Gen. Odierno gives him more troops. Odierno has promised to do so — just as soon as they become available. Presumably that means letting the Sunnis take over more security in Anbar.
Finally, Condi’s senior advisor, David Satterfield, said today that the U.S. knows Sadr is in Iran. Note: not “thinks.” Knows.