Thursday, December 06, 2007

Long Term Troops in Iraq

My guess at this point is that the US has gotten Maliki to agree to extend the UN mandate for US troops until the end of 2008, after the next US Presidential Election. If the Iraqis and US come to an agreement about long term relationships, which I do not expect, then that agreement still will not pass Parliament in Iraq.

After November, everyone including the Iraqis will have a new US executive branch to negotiate with, that will have more flexibility than the present one - for domestic political reasons, Bush refuses do anything that could be interpreted as an admission of defeat.

My guess is that the next administration will commit the US to a full phase out of US troops from Iraq. That is what the Iraqis will demand.

Another guess (which I make in agreement with commenter Ziad) is that putting an objective brake on US sanctions efforts was traded with Iran for doing everything it can to keep Iraq calm until 2008/2009. If that was the deal Iran probably got slightly better terms. Iran doesn't necessarily want to kill American troops if the US is leaving anyway, and the US has to leave anyway. The US does want as many sanctions as it can get and will probably get fewer sanctions than it could have gotten otherwise, if the US had been willing to sacrifice US soldiers for those sanctions.

I strongly doubt (in disagreement with Stratfor, same link) that Iran has agreed to a long term US presence in Iraq. Stratfor consistently says Iran is on the verge of agreeing to a long term US presence in Iraq. It seems more like wishful thinking on the part of the US foreign policy community that Stratfor is plugged into than a reflection of the views Iran consistently expresses in every possible venue.

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