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March 19, 2007

Iraqi politicians cautious about a quick U.S. withdrawal

Posted by David Postman at 2:07 PM

Peace activist Dal LaMagna has posted video and transcripts of the teleconference he helped set up among members of Congress and members of the Iraqi Parliament. You can see an edited video here.

I've read interviews LaMagna has done with Iraqi politicians before. And in this transcript, I'm struck again by the concerns expressed about a rapid U.S. exit, even from vocal critics of the U.S. occupation. The Iraqis seem less willing to set a hard date than some anti-war Democrats in Congress. Here's a snippet from the edited transcript with LaMagna's colleague Raed Jarrar moderating:

Congressman Bill Delahunt: ... Would you provide us with an estimate of the opinion in Iraq about whether there should be a withdrawal in terms of a time certain by American military forces. If there were a vote today in the Iraqi Parliament what (do) you estimate the vote to be in favor of a withdrawal by the U.S. Military from Iraq in a specified period of time?

M.P. Osama al-Nujaifi: Definitely the percentage would be very high if the principle and core request for the Iraqis is completely American withdrawal, except for the ones who are benefiting from this odd and abnormal situation, I assure most Iraqis would want quick withdrawal of American forces. However this is not, the request is not for a withdrawal that would leave a security void in Iraq.

M.P. Sheik Khalaf al-Elayyan: We wish for a rapid exit of American forces after it has secured Iraq and to build military and security institutes and organizations and to protect Iraq from Iranian influence and to establish an Iraqi national government that covers all Iraqi people from different cities away from secular and sects that nationalist, patriotism, efficiency is the core of all of this.

M.P. Saleh al-Mutlak: I think the question, or part of it, says if the Parliament would vote tomorrow would they vote for the American presence in Iraq or to leave Iraq. As a parliamentary person as the head of a block in the Parliament I would like to tell you now that the Parliament is not representing the Iraqi people anymore. People who elected us at some point they would not elect us now if the government will continue as it is. Because we failed. We failed to bring to a government that can bring peace and security and services to the people.

Raed Jarrar: (interrupting Saleh) So what is your party's position towards demanding withdrawal of American troops from Iraq.

M.P. Saleh al-Mutlak: I will say a timetable for withdrawal and parallel, as I say before with a timetable to correct the mistakes you have done in Iraq and I have mentioned them before and on top of these you have to create a government a secular one to lead Iraq before you leave and do not leave us with a pro Iranian government because it is not for your benefit neither for our benefit.

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