Biden Sends Mixed Messages on 2011 Iraq Pullout

Insists US 'Committed' to Deadline, Then Says Troops Will 'Probably' Stay

Following up his meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, Vice President Joe Biden insisted that the US was committed to the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) deadline, which would have all US troops out of the country by the end of the year.

The comments were a major boost to Maliki, who has been insisting that he will keep his pledge of seeing the US troops out but has been met with considerable skepticism. Unfortunately, Biden continued to speak, and has he has so often done in the past, appeared to seriously backtrack.

Following his seeming guarantees about the SOFA deadline, Biden insisted that Iraq was “going to need help beyond 2011” and insisted that US troops would “probably” remain in the country to support Maliki.

Maliki’s promise to see US troops out is in doubt, but he would face a major political backlash across the board, but particularly from cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, if he shrugs off the SOFA deadline. When he pushed the SOFA in 2008 he received narrow approval predicated on a referendum the following year – the referendum has still never been held.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.