Germany’s Der Speigel reported that Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said he supported Barack Obama’s proposed 16-month timetable for U.S. troops to withdraw from Iraq. Maliki’s office, in a statement released by the U.S. military, said the prime minister’s comments were “misunderstood and mistranslated.” (International Herald Tribune)
What the commentators said
It's a "huge, huge deal" that Maliki "has endorsed, by name, Barack Obama's plan to withdraw most U.S. troops," said Jonathan Chait in The New Republic's The Plank blog. If John McCain wants Iraq to succeed as a democracy, he can hardly "paint Obama's plan as wildly naive or irresponsible when the Iraqi government favors it too."
Obama's plan is a “foreign policy masterstroke,” said Allahpundit in the blog Hot Air. He started “screaming for withdrawal” more than a year ago, “when it would have been a horrific idea,” but now that the McCain-backed “surge” has gotten “the jihadis and militias finally subdued" he "wants credit for having been ahead of the curve.”
Maliki is playing U.S. politics, too, said AP Baghdad bureau chief Robert Reid via Yahoo! News. By flirting with Obama’s withdrawal plan, Maliki wants to give Iraq “a major voice in how long U.S. troops stay and what they will do while still there.” And it’s working—President Bush just agreed to a “general time horizon” for removing U.S. troops, “unthinkable a few months ago.”
Sure, Maliki’s playing politics, said Ben Smith in Politico. It’s hard to predict which candidate his meddling will help, but he knows he’ll have more influence now than after the election.