It has now become clear that President George Bush has been urging the Iraq government to allow the presence of US forces in their nation until at least 2015. Iraqi President Jalai Talabani told the press: “It was a US proposal for the date which is 2015 and an Iraq one which is 2010, then we agreed to make it 2011. Iraq had the right, if necessary to extend the presence of these troops.” Details are slowly emerging about US – Iraq negotiations on how long American troops will remain in that nation since the UN mandate expires at the end of this year. Bush is pushing for a longer departure date while the newly assertive Iraq government wants US troops to leave within eighteen months. There undoubtedly are pressures being exerted on the Maliki government by groups such as those supporting al-Sadr to get rid of US troops as soon as possible.
The effort by Bush to retain a troop presence for years may also have political connotations. Barack Obama has been pushing for a departure that fits closely with the Iraq government date while John McCain continues insisting troops are needed for a longer time period. If Bush agrees to the 2010 departure date, he confirms the validity of Obama that troops can leave without serious consequences.