"If the parliament refuses, Maliki would have "no choice" but to request a U.N. extension "because the American forces will lose their legal cover on Dec. 31," he told the Times of London in a weekend interview. "If that happens, according to international law, Iraqi law and American law, the U.S. forces will be confined to their bases and have to withdraw from Iraq," Maliki said.
U.S. officials do not dispute that the absence of an agreement would probably require an immediate end to combat operations and, at a minimum, confinement to bases on Jan. 1. Officials refused to discuss the sensitive issue on the record while negotiations are ongoing.
"I am actually reasonably optimistic we will come to closure on this in a very near future," Defense Secretary Robert Gates told reporters Friday as he returned from a five-day trip to Europe. A month earlier, on Sept. 8, Gates told Congress that he expected an agreement "within the next few weeks."
"But I had hoped that some weeks ago," Gates added.
Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi said yesterday that an accord is unlikely before the end of the year, citing the number of parties that must sign off on the deal. "I’m not sure that the time we have left is enough for all of these organizations to study it, revise it and agree on the text," Hashimi told McClatchy Newspapers. Karen de Young
Ah, the wily Saracens….
How does that piece of Kiplinesque doggerel go?
"It is not good for the Christian white
to hustle the Asian brown.
For the Christian riles and the Asian smiles
and he weareth the Christian down.
The end of the fight is a tombstone white
with the name of the late deceased and
the epitaph drear
"A fool lies here who tried to hustle the East."
So maybe Kipling didn’t write it exactly like that…. I like it this way.
I have the following from our brother Al:
"What are the odds that what all this really means is that Maliki is planning to wait until the December 31st deadline in order to avoid making this difficult political decision? This would allow him, in effect, to plead that he is forced by circumstances beyond his control to order the United States out of Iraq.