[…} George W. Bush never managed to use leverage in the negotiations with the Iraqi government over bilateral relations. Instead, during the course of one year, his administration essentially performed an unconditional reversal of its Iraq policy, silently moving from its traditional resistance against timetables for withdrawal to accepting a framework that means full withdrawal within 3 years, with no opening even for the ‘residual forces’ that also pragmatists among the Democrats have enthusiastically defended. One year ago, Washington had leverage over Maliki because he was still weak: he needed American support so that he could achieve better control of the Iraqi security forces and thereby enhanced control over internal challengers to his rule. In 2008, without asking for any favours in return, the Bush administration gave him this in the shape of a continuation of ‘the surge’. Moreover, by performing a ‘surge’ with no built-in requirements for political reform, Washington consistently enhanced Maliki’s leverage in the very negotiations that were simultaneously going on between the two sides.
Iraqi Parliament Approves SOFA — Now What?
November 27, 2008 by Jari