(Photo from Baghdad today via Reuters.)
In response to Congressional passage of a supplemental funding bill that includes a timeline for withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq, a spokesman for the Iraqi government complained to the Associated Press today:
"We see some negative signs in the decision because it sends wrong signals to some sides that might think of alternatives to the political process," Ali al-Dabbagh told The Associated Press.
. . . "Coalition forces gave lots of sacrifices and they should continue their mission, which is building Iraqi security forces to take over," al-Dabbagh said.
Um, although I'm sure the Bush administration appreciates your willingness to recite their talking points, Mr. al-Dabbagh, didn't they bother to inform you that the goal of "building Iraqi security forces" is no longer operative? And about that "political process" you're defending, here's an update from the Washington Post this morning:
U.S. military commanders say a key goal of the ongoing security offensive is to buy time for Iraq's leaders to reach political benchmarks that can unite its fractured coalition government and persuade insurgents to stop fighting.
. . . Ten weeks into the security plan, even as U.S. lawmakers propose timelines for a U.S. troop withdrawal, there has been little or no progress in achieving three key political benchmarks set by the Bush administration: new laws governing the sharing of Iraq's oil resources and allowing many former members of the banned Baath Party to return to their jobs, and amendments to Iraq's constitution. As divisions widen, a bitter, prolonged legislative struggle is hindering prospects for political reconciliation.
"They are all up in the air," said Ahmed Chalabi, a secular Shiite who is chairman of Iraq's Supreme National Commission for De-Baathification. "They are certainly not going to be produced in any timetable that is acceptable within the context of the current political climate in the United States."
Other benchmarks such as provincial elections, a political agreement on dismantling militias and a program for reconciliation announced last July also have not moved forward, Iraqi officials said.
. . . Even if compromises are reached on the three benchmarks, it is unlikely the final legislation will resemble anything close to the Bush administration's blueprint. Maliki's aides are already stressing that they cannot control how the divided 275-member parliament will react to the proposals.
"When the Americans give orders, people will be more against it," [Kurdish pol Mahmoud] Othman said. "That's what the Americans don't understand."
Allow me to explain what's going on here. Although the Iraqi government is happy to send out a spokesman to pay lip service to Dubya's desired spin, lip service is all the Bushites are going to get from them — the Shiite-dominated government doesn't want to share power, or give the U.S. an inside track to its oil, etc. So, much like Moqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army during the current would-be crackdown, the government is lying low and hoping to wait us out. That's the point of the Chalabi quote dismissing the possibility that any of the laws will meet Dubya's desired timetable.
But until we figure out the scam, they're happy to have our troops die protecting them from the Sunni insurgents.