On Ayad Allawi’s call for the U.S. to halt its withdrawal from Iraq until a new government is formed:
Allawi won the election, he’s moderate, probably the most pro-American of all the leading candidates. . . . He understands what is going on now is the instability you get in a country when there is a change of government and a negotiation over who is going to form the new government.
We saw that after the election of 2005 in which there were months of instability and ultimately it went into a downward spiral into a year or two of civil war.
His problem is that the Americans are standing down and they are leaving on the fixed of a timetable. Biden was over in Iraq a few weeks ago and he said this is a situation where this could be one of the great successes of the Obama administration.
[But only] If we support the Iraqis at the time of maximum stress right now. The problem is that the president seems uninterested in Iraq except to wash his hands and get out on a fixed timetable. It’s a matter of a few months — until probably mid-summer — when the future of Iraq will be determined. And to be drawing away, drawing down and displaying a complete lack of interest in what is happening — from the highest level here — is extremely unhelpful at the moment of maximum danger. . . .
Iran is trying to destabilize Iraq . . . [and] it’s trying to influence the factions that are now competing to establish a government. There have been a lot of [Iraqi] delegations in Tehran negotiating with the Iranians about how a government would be formed in Baghdad. There are no delegations who have gone to the American embassy. And the reason is — [Iraqi] people are looking around and thinking who is going to protect us and who is not? Who is going to be around and who will be gone?
I think a signal from the U.S. that we might stay around and assist and keep some stability . . . would give us the opportunity of exerting influence on who ends up as the leader of the government and whether it’s [a] pro-American government, not a pro-Iranian one.