(Seattle Times) WASHINGTON â€” Secretary of State Colin Powell emphatically said yesterday that if the incoming Iraqi interim government ordered the departure of foreign troops after June 30, they would pack up without protest, but emphasized he doubted such a request would be made.
“We’re there to support the Iraqi people and protect them and the new government,” Powell said at a news conference with other foreign ministers from the Group of Eight nations. “I have no doubt the new government will welcome our presence and am losing no sleep over whether they will ask us to stay.”
But were the new government to say it could handle security, “then we would leave,” Powell said.
His statement, which was echoed by L. Paul Bremer, the U.S. civilian administrator in Iraq, and the foreign ministers of Britain, Italy and Japan, came one day after conflicting testimony by administration officials on the issue.
In Baghdad, Bremer told a delegation from Iraq’s Diyala province that American forces would not stay where they were unwelcome.
“If the provisional government asks us to leave, we will leave,” Bremer said, referring to an Iraqi administration due to take power June 30. “I don’t think that will happen, but obviously we don’t stay in countries where we’re not welcome.”
Iraq’s sovereign government, November 22, 2005:
CAIRO, Egypt (AP) – Leaders of Iraq’s sharply divided Shiites, Kurds and Sunnis called Monday for a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S.-led forces in the country and said Iraq’s opposition had a “legitimate right” of resistance.
The participants in Cairo agreed on “calling for the withdrawal of foreign troops according to a timetable, through putting in place an immediate national program to rebuild the armed forces … control the borders and the security situation” and end terror attacks.
“Though resistance is a legitimate right for all people, terrorism does not represent resistance. Therefore, we condemn terrorism and acts of violence, killing and kidnapping targeting Iraqi citizens and humanitarian, civil, government institutions, national resources and houses of worships,” the document said.
Did you get all of that? Not only do they want us out, but they do not consider retaliation and resistance against occupying forces (us!) to be terrorism.
I’m waiting for Mean Jean Schmidt to stand up on the floor of Congress and call the Iraqi government “cowards”. I’m waiting for Dick Cheney to tell the Iraqi government that their rhetoric is only enabling the terrorists. I’m waiting for the current Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, to live up to the promises of the US government and former Iraqi civilian authority and leave now that we’ve been asked.
But I’m not holding my breath. I figure “we’ll leave if we’re asked” is one of those promises from the same batch that included “I’ll fire anyone involved with the CIA leak”, “I will be a uniter, not a divider”, and “I don’t think the United States should be involved in nation building”.