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Tuesday, July 8

Ping pong, anyone?

Amer Moshen reports for Iraq Slogger that Az-Zaman mentions there has been a -- how to put it -- transmogrification of the US-Iraq security treaty:
According to the paper, the US and Iraqi governments have seemingly agreed to replace the treaty (which would require the approval of the Parliament) with a “memorandum of understanding” that “has the same spirit” as the treaty.

In fact, the paper referred to the security arrangement, for the first time, as “a strategic memorandum of understanding” throughout the article, in an indication that this could be the official name of the security treaty from now on.
Today's Washington Post shores Az-Zaman's observations by reporting that yesterday, while broaching the subject of establishing a timetable for US troop withdrawals from Iraq, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki spoke in terms of a "memorandum of understanding."

Translation: Mookie and his followers are still bent out of shape about the US staying on Iraq, and it's hoped by Maliki and the pro-US camp in Iraq's government that -- er, transmogrifying a treaty into a memo will ease the pain of the bottom line.

What is the bottom line? According to the Post:
Sadiq al-Rikabi, a top political adviser to Maliki, said any timetable would be conditioned on the ability of Iraq's security forces to secure the country, something the government has long said.

"In that case, American forces should return home," Rikabi said, adding that there were no discussions so far of specific dates for a U.S. withdrawal. [...]

At the Pentagon, spokesman Bryan Whitman said negotiations were being handled by the State Department but reiterated the need for a conditions-based approach. "Timelines tend to be artificial in nature," he said, "and in a situation where things are as dynamic as they are in Iraq, I would tell you that it's usually best to look at these things as they are on the ground."
Getting a crick in your neck from following the little ball bounce back and forth? Okay, let's boil it down:
Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, has said he will decide by September -- when he is due to relinquish his command to Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno -- whether additional withdrawals will be possible before year's end.
And that decision will be based on the best assessments of hard-headed Iraqi and US commanders about the Iraq military's readiness and the general security situation in Iraq. Beep this is a recording.

Just how are things going on the security front in Iraq right now? For the answer we turn to the most reliable civilian source for frontline news, Long War Journal. While there, catch up with news on the security situation in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
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