Last July, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said U.S. troops should be out of Iraq "as soon as possible" and endorsed Sen. Barack Obama's (D-IL) withdrawal plan. Obama "talks about 16 months. That, we think, would be the right time frame for a withdrawal, with the possibility of slight changes," Maliki told Der Spiegel magazine.
Days later, as Obama wrapped up meetings with Iraqi leaders in Baghdad, Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh reiterated his government's stance, saying "the end of 2010 is the appropriate time for the withdrawal."
Negotiating the post-UN mandate security agreement with Iraq, Bush argued for more time and both sides ultimately agreed that all U.S. troops would be out of Iraq by the end of 2011, not 2010, even though Bush has said previously that "if they were to say, leave, we would leave."
Why did Bush go back on his word? A source tells ThinkProgress that White House communications staff were concerned that Maliki's endorsement of the 2010 time line would damage Sen. John McCain's (R-AZ) presidential campaign. Indeed, during an interview with Iraqi television last week (according to an Open Source Center translation), Maliki suggested that the U.S. presidential elections played a role:
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