MALIKI AND OBAMA….This is nuts. First Nouri al-Maliki tells Der Spiegel that he thinks Barack Obama’s 16-month timeline for getting out of Iraq is about right. Then his spokesman, Ali al-Dabbagh, tries to walk this back by claiming that Maliki’s comments were mistranslated (they weren’t). Now, today, Dabbagh is back, and he says Maliki likes Obama’s timeline after all. From McClatchy:

After talks with Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama on Monday, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki reaffirmed that Iraq wants U.S. combat troops to withdraw from Iraq by the end of 2010, a few months later than Obama had proposed.

Ali Dabbagh, the prime minister’s spokesman, said Maliki and Obama didn’t discuss specifics during the hour-long meeting. But he said the Iraqi government would like to see all American combat troops out of the country by the end of 2010, a bit later than Obama’s proposal to draw down all combat brigades within 16 months after he’d become president.

“Barak Obama showed his support to this government,” Dabbagh said. “He came to listen to our views and the views of the prime minister. And the prime minister gave him his point of view about the presence of U.S. forces and . . . what we want from the forces.”

There’s no walking things back this time. For better or worse, Maliki has now firmly endorsed Barack Obama’s vision for the future of U.S. troops in Iraq.

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