Sunday, September 16, 2012
Truest statement of the week
Is Nouri al-Maliki becoming Iraq's next dictator and, if he is, does anyone in Washington care? The second half of the question is easy to answer. The Pentagon wanted to keep 8,000 troops in Iraq after withdrawal. But Maliki made it clear there would be no US troops after the agreement expired on 31 December 2011. The state department also planned for an embassy up to 16,000 strong, and a CIA station 700 strong, but the Iraqi strongman made short shrift of a sizeable US civilian presence, by insisting that his office take direct responsibility for approving every US diplomatic visa. Washington could use the soft power of military supply contracts, but is unwilling to do that. Maliki is allowing Iranian overflights to resupply Assad's embattled regime in Syria. Washington still does not want to know.
-- the editorial board of The Guardian weighs in with "Iraq: back to the future."