Steve Benen, Crooks and Liars: It’s likely that the White House and the McCain campaign will call this a transcription error, or insist that Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari didn’t really mean what he said, or perhaps even parse the meaning of the word “timeline,” but for the rest of us, we now have yet another top Iraqi official demanding a “very clear” timeline for U.S. withdrawal.
The United States must provide a “very clear timeline” to withdraw its troops from Iraq as part of an agreement allowing them to stay beyond this year, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari said on Sunday.It was the strongest public assertion yet that Iraq is demanding a timeline. U.S. President George W. Bush has long resisted setting a firm schedule for pulling troops out of Iraq, although last month the White House began speaking of a general “time horizon” and “aspirational goals” to withdraw. […]In an interview with Reuters, Zebari said the agreement, including the timeline, was “very close” and would probably be presented to the Iraqi parliament in early September.Asked if Iraq would accept a document that did not include dates for a withdrawal, Zebari said: “No, no. Definitely there has to be a very clear timeline.”
And what might that timeline be? Iraqi officials have talked recently of an October 2010 deadline for the withdrawal of U.S. combat troops — which would, of course, be fairly close to the timeline articulated by Barack Obama — but Zebari said to wait and see.
For those keeping score at home, we now have Nuri al-Maliki, the prime minister of Iraq, Ali al-Dabbagh, the spokesperson for the Iraqi government, and Hoshiyar Zebari, the Iraqi foreign minister, all publicly endorsing a withdrawal timeline.
That sound you hear is John McCain losing his favorite campaign issue.