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Iraq's Leaders Call for a Timetable for Responsible Redeployment of U.S. Troops

For years, President Bush has disregarded the will of the American people and the majority of Congress on the war in Iraq - but he cannot ignore the wishes of Iraq's government. This week, two key Iraqi leaders, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and National Security Adviser Mowaffaq al-Rubaie, joined members of Iraq's Parliament in calling for a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops.

Iraq Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki

“The current trend is to reach an agreement on a memorandum of understanding either for the departure of the forces or to put a timetable on their withdrawal.” [7/8/08]

Iraq's National Security Adviser Mowaffaq al-Rubaie
“We can't have a memorandum of understanding with foreign forces unless it has dates and clear horizons determining the departure of foreign forces. We're unambiguously talking about their departure.”  [Reuters, 7/8/08]

Letter to Foreign Affairs Subcommittee Chairman Bill Delahunt from 31 Iraqi Legislators
“Likewise, we wish to inform you that the majority of Iraqi representatives strongly reject any military-security, economic, commercial, agricultural, investment or political agreement with the United States that is not linked to clear mechanisms that obligate the occupying American military forces to fully withdraw from Iraq, in accordance with a declared timetable and without leaving behind any military bases, soldiers or hired fighters.” [6/2008]

But neither President Bush nor Sen. John McCain would listen.

White House Press Secretary Dana Perino:
“We have always been opposed, and remain so, to an arbitrary withdrawal date.”[Bloomberg, 7/9/08]

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Question: Senator, with Iraqi leaders now calling for a timetable for U.S. troop withdrawals…

Sen. John McCain: Actually, the Iraqis are not. The Iraqis were widely reported as short a time ago as a couple of weeks ago that there would be no status of forces agreement, and Maliki would say that, and it got headlines, and of course it turned out not to be true. [7/8/08]

But President Bush has said time and again he would honor the wishes of Iraq's government and the Iraqi people if they asked us to withdraw our troops:

June 2008
“You know, of course, we're there at their invitation. This is a sovereign nation.” [6/14/08]

May 2007  
“We are there at the invitation of the Iraqi government. This is a sovereign nation. Twelve million people went to the polls to approve a constitution. It's their government's choice. If they were to say, leave, we would leave.”  [5/24/2007]

April 2007

“This is a guy [Maliki]…who has been elected by the people. And it's a sovereign nation. And we're there at their request. The truth of the matter is, if they said 'get out now, we're tired of coalition presence, the U.S.'s presence is counterproductive,' we would leave.” [ABC News, 5/20/07]

And Administration officials and Congressional Republicans have been repeating this promise since the war began:

Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona)
“…I don't see how we could stay when our whole emphasis and policy has been based on turning the Iraqi government over to the Iraqi people.” [Council on Foreign Relations, 4/22/04]

Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of State  
If the Iraqis ask us to leave and we're not quite convinced that they are ready to take our place, will we still go?
“Well, of course, it's a sovereign government...” [Fox, 11/23/05]  

Paul Bremer, Administrator of the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq
When asked if the U.S. would withdraw troops if the Iraqi government asked:
“I don't think that will happen, but obviously we don't stay in countries where we're not welcome.” [5/14/04]

Ret. General Colin Powell, Secretary of State (2001-2005)
“I have no doubt the new government will welcome our presence and am losing no sleep over whether they will ask us to stay…[But were the new government to say it could handle security] then we would leave.” [AP, 5/15/04]
 
Richard Perle, Chairman of the Defense Policy Board Advisory Committee (2001-2003)
“There is a government there and if they ask us to leave, I have no doubt that we will leave.” [Meet the Press, 3/18/07]

Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky), Minority Leader
“If the Iraqi government ever decides they want us to leave…then certainly we would comply with their wishes, they are a duly elected sovereign government.” [ABC News, 5/20/07]

Rep. Adam Putnam (R-Florida)

“I suspect we would respect their wishes…I think that it would reflect a successful, healthy and well-running parliamentary organization that was delivered to that nation by the sacrifices of our fighting men and women.” [Politico, 5/16/07]

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama)

“Iraq is a sovereign nation. If they were to do that, we'd be happy to allow them.” [Politico, 5/16/07]

Rep. Scott Garrett (R-New Jersey)
“That's what the White House has been saying it wants. They stand up, we stand down.” [Politico, 5/16/07]