Iraq

10Oct08

The Washington Times has a story today indicating that Barack inserted himself into conversations between the Iraqi government and the Bush Administration over a still unresolved status of forces agreement – terms for the U.S. to remain in Iraq upon the expiration of UN mandates.

At the same time the Bush administration was negotiating a still elusive agreement to keep the U.S. military in Iraq, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama tried to convince Iraqi leaders in private conversations that the president shouldn’t be allowed to enact the deal without congressional approval.

Mr. Obama’s conversations with the Iraqi leaders, confirmed to The Washington Times by his campaign aides, began just two weeks after he clinched the Democratic presidential nomination in June and stirred controversy over the appropriateness of a White House candidate’s contacts with foreign governments while the sitting president is conducting a war.

While this is potentially explosive, details are elusive and complex, so it is unlikely to become a significant campaign issue barring more definitive information as to the exact nature of what Barack was asking of the Iraq government. You’ll recall a similar accusation in the New York Post by Amir Taheri last month.

WHILE campaigning in public for a speedy withdrawal of US troops from Iraq, Sen. Barack Obama has tried in private to persuade Iraqi leaders to delay an agreement on a draw-down of the American military presence.

According to Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, Obama made his demand for delay a key theme of his discussions with Iraqi leaders in Baghdad in July.

“He asked why we were not prepared to delay an agreement until after the US elections and the formation of a new administration in Washington,” Zebari said in an interview.

Mr. Obama spoke June 16 to Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari when he was in Washington, according to both the Iraqi Embassy in Washington and the Obama campaign. Both said the conversation was at Mr. Zebari’s request and took place on the phone because Mr. Obama was traveling. However, the two sides differ over what Mr. Obama said.

Barack’s cover on this is his dual role as a U.S. Senator and presidential candidate.

Presidential nominees traditionally have not intervened personally in foreign-policy disputes, although campaign surrogates have done so.



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