Friday, Mar. 19, 2010

July 2008
All in the Timing

"That, we think, would be the right time frame for a withdrawal, with the possibility of slight changes."

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, during an interview with Germany's Der Spiegel

With the presidential campaign in full swing, Barack Obama travels to Iraq to meet the country's political leaders and senior U.S. military officials. During the trip, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki — whose fortunes are bolstered on July 19 by the decision of Sunni politicians to end a year-long boycott and rejoin the government — appears to endorse the Illinois Senator's proposed troop withdrawal timetable before backtracking from his comments. After getting that boost, however, Obama draws fire from John McCain for canceling a scheduled visit to injured American troops at Germany's Landstuhl Regional Medical Center; Republicans claim the Democrat didn't want to visit because he couldn't bring along the media or campaign staff, while Obama counters that he simply decided the appearance would be perceived as political. Iraq gets a measure of good news when the International Olympic Committee, which had suspended the country's Olympic Committee for what it claimed was political meddling, agrees to allow Iraq's athletes to participate in the Beijing Games.