Iraqi President Nouri al-Maliki, left, and his American counterpart, Barack Obama, make a joint appearance Monday to discuss the upcoming U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq.
While he had visiting Iraqi President Nouri al-Maliki close at hand, U.S. President Barack Obama took the opportunity Monday to make congratulatory noises from the podium about the end of the Iraq War and the imminent withdrawal of American troops from Maliki’s homeland. Obama also happened to point out that this constitutes the fulfillment of one of his campaign promises. But there’s more to the story than happy homecomings, clearly, and the U.S. presence in Iraq will carry on well past the withdrawal date. —KA
“Political Hotsheet” on CBS News:
Obama and al-Maliki met Monday to discuss the strategic relationship between the countries, which Mr. Obama described as an “equal partnership based on mutual interest and mutual respect.” He described Iraq as “sovereign, self-reliant, and Democratic,” telling the Iraqi leader, “You have a strong, enduring partner in the United States of America.”
Despite the positive rhetoric from Mr. Obama, the U.S. troop withdrawal comes at a time when it is far from clear that Iraq will be able to maintain its security and a health political system - and with Iran seeking to expand its influence in Iraq and in the region as a whole. Both Iran and Iraq are majority Shiite, and there are ties between the two countries’ political establishments; it is not clear whether Iraq will become a safe haven for America’s enemies once the United States fully leaves the country.
Mr. Obama said Monday that “Iraq faces great challenges, but today reflects the impressive progress that Iraqis have made.” He said Iraqis are “working” to build “efficient and independent and transparent” institutions.