This news just came out about 3o minutes ago, and its vitally important. (NY Times Article)
From The Article:
The United States and Iraq have agreed to set a “general time horizon” for the “further reduction of U.S. combat forces in Iraq” following the improvement in security conditions in the country, the White House said Friday.
The breakthrough, which was reached between President Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki in discussions via video link on Thursday, could lead to the successful completion of a long-term security agreement covering American operations in Iraq — from combat missions to detaining Iraqis — by the end of this month, a White House official said.
"We’re converging on an agreement," the official said, referring to ongoing negotiations between Iraq and the United States on the deal.
The long-term agreement had been held up by differences over issues like the extent of Iraqi control over American military operations, the right of American soldiers to detain suspects without the approval of Iraqi authorities and Iraqi demands for a timetable for withdrawal.
But in a statement, the White House said Mr. Bush and Mr. Maliki had agreed “that improving conditions should allow for the agreements now under negotiation to include a general time horizon for meeting aspirational goals — such as the resumption of Iraqi security control in their cities and provinces and the further reduction of U.S. combat forces from Iraq.”
This is good news on a number of different levels. One it shows the level of strength that the Government of Iraq and more specifically Prime Minister Maliki have grown to. Two it shows that the "surge operations" were the correct operation to undertake at the time. I would only say we should have had more combat troops on the ground from the very beginning though, negating the need for the surge in the first place. Third it shows the growing strength and ability of the Iraqi Army and Police, and the phenomenal job that they are doing.
There is much talk right now on the news services how this timeline is not specific enough. But unless I am wrong I believe that our current administration has always said that decisions will be made in agreement with the Commander's on the ground and the Iraqi Government. This reflects a very wise way forward since it is responsive to the needs of the moment and listens to the experts. It also begins the process of drawing down troop levels and turning Iraq back over to the Iraqi's. I believe that this is also very similar to what both Presidential Candidates have said. One is a bit more aggressive in his draw down timeline but both have said listening to the commanders on the ground and the Iraqi's themselves is critical.
In addition I believe that while this shows how well Iraq is progressing it also further allows us to shift focus back to Afghanistan; in regards to troops levels, money, and equipment. I believe that with all we have seen in the past two weeks occurring in Afghanistan it is time to see a similar surge operation in that country to further support and help our great allies and friends, the Afghan's.
This is a critical piece of information, and a critical good news story. It not only is news about an agreement, or further troop reductions; it is a confirmation that what our troops have been doing has been correct and successful. I can think of no better sign of our success then Iraq taking over more and more of the security operations, and securing their own country.
God Bless America
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