The Iraqi government has announced today that the national parliamentary elections, which were supposed to be held later this year, will be pushed back until January 30, 2010. Others had fought to push the elections back even further, as much as a year, citing the growing violence and the economic turmoil facing the nation.
The delay may push the selection of the next Iraqi prime minister until mid 2010, imperiling the Obama Administration’s plans to remove significant portions of the American military force from the nation by August 31, 2010.
President Obama had previously agreed to leave the bulk of America’s soldiers in the nation until after the national election. Top US commander in Iraq General Ray Odierno said that the pullout from Iraq was predicated on the ability of Iraq to conduct “legitimate, credible elections,” and that the military should remain for at least 60 days after to ensure that the losers of the elections didn’t resort to violence. Such a plan would seem to leave the already pared-back pullout scheme woefully optimistic, and the election delay may provide yet another excuse to keep the war going indefinitely.