Thursday, August 14, 2008

London paper says U.S. combat troops to withdraw from Iraq within three years

The Times of London reported today that the U.S. military will pull out of Iraq within the next three years under a draft agreement between the two countries, provided the violence levels remain low.

The Times cites Hoshyar Zebari, the Iraqi Foreign Minister, as saying the U.S. will pull out of Iraqi cities next summer, and that U.S. troops would no longer have the authority to unilaterally mount attacks within the country beginning next year.

The Pentagon declined to comment, according to the report.

“Our negotiators and the Americans have almost brought it [the accord] to a close. It is not a closed deal but it is very close," Zebari said in an interview with the British paper.

The agreement would next need approval from Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, President Jalal Talabani and other Iraqi leaders, which could occur this month. The Iraqi parliament would then need to give its approval. The body will reconvene in September.

The Times story goes on to say:

The “time horizon” for the exit of US troops would depend upon the ability of the Iraqi police and army to maintain security gains in Iraq after a surge of US forces in 2007 helped to push violence to its lowest levels in 4½ years.

Therein lies the difference between the Bush administration plan and the withdraw plans forwarded by Democrats and liberals over the last two years. The plan recognizes the fluidity of the situation and the need to evaluate conditions on the ground.

Nobody imagined the possibility of troop pullouts a year ago. These negotiations highlight the success of the surge strategy and vindicate Pres. Bush's determination to stand up in the face of political pressure.

In an ironic twist, the liberals may soon get exactly what they wanted, but instead of pulling out of a "hopeless situation", the U.S. will leave Iraq relatively stable, and will have shown Al Qaeda and other Islamic extremists that America does possess the will and determination to see things through to victory.

If things continue to progress, the U.S. will leave a winner, not a disgraced failure, and Al Qaeda will come out the loser in place they chose to make the focal point of their strategy.

Many will view this as a political defeat for the left, and while I can't help but have a tad bit of glee about that, the real victory belongs to the Iraqi people and the men and women of the armed forces who persevered when things looked bleak and never waivered in their commitment to the mission.

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