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“All Iraqi Factions Call For a Timetable For a Us Pullout”



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That’s the headline on the jump of this New York Times story about the reconciliation conference yesterday. It is extremely encouraging news because of what it says about Shia willingness to accommodate Sunni concerns and forge a national consensus. Neither the statement about a timetable for US withdrawal (“dependent on an immediate national program for rebuilding the security forces”) nor the nod to national resistance (“a legitimate right of all nations”) has much significance beyond symbolism. But that Iraqi factions are sitting down and working out consensus announcements is important in itself. And it is natural that they should want a foreign occupying army to leave (although I doubt many Iraqi leaders privately would say they want us to leave anytime soon). The trick here is to have Iraqi security forces in decent enough shape soon enough that we can begin to draw-down some of our forces in a way that placates Iraqi nationalism, shows progress to the American public, and–importantly–does not give back any strategic gains we have made on the ground.



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