Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Michael Mullen confirmed today that the Obama Administration is already in talks with Iraq’s Maliki government on the continuation of the American military presence in the nation beyond December.
The talks come after months of public haranguing by administration officials demanding that Iraq “ask” for the troops to stay, while insisting that they didn’t intend to remove them. The US currently has just under 50,000 troops in the nation, which they invaded in 2003.
But according to Mullen, the talks are now centering entirely on Iran, reflecting the administration’s current efforts to blame escalating violence on Iranian influence over Shi’ite militias. Officials have claimed certain weapons the militias are using contain “Iranian materials,” which Mullen described as “proof” of the Iranian government’s involvement.
Now Mullen insists that the Iraqi government must help the US to “control” Iran’s influence in the country. Iran’s government has close relations with the Maliki government, and the US seems keen on splitting the two up. With Maliki’s Shi’ite party depending on other Shi’ite allies to maintain control, such a move may be extremely difficult.