by Whet Moser
Don't invite the Tribune editorial staff over for a party. They're lingerers, if you know what I mean.
But what we're hearing from the Iraqi side is troubling. Maliki's latest statement outlined several conditions:
• Iraq won't grant U.S. forces immunity from Iraqi laws and courts.
• Iraq rejects Washington's demand "to have a free hand in undertaking military operations without cooperation with the Iraqi government."
• Iraq won't allow "American forces independent right to arrest Iraqis or execute operations against terrorism."
• "We cannot allow them to use the Iraqi skies and waters at all times."
Again, this is still all under discussion. But Maliki's conditions seem to be unacceptable.
The military and political news from Iraq has been good lately, good enough to believe that the U.S. can continue to draw down troops in the months ahead. But if Iraq insists on untenable conditions in these talks, the U.S. will have to hasten its departure.
Which is something no one wants, clearly. Then again, we were told we'd only stay as long as we were needed, which I guess is different from as long as we're wanted. Related: TomDispatch on America's new ziggurats.