During the New Hampshire primary, Senator John McCain said American forces might be neceesary in Iraq for about 100 years which upset many Iraqi leaders. Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari made clear that on crucial issues such as the duration of American involvement, “Who is in charge, we or you?” He is much more confident that al-Qaeda forces are crushed and is more concerned about the status of the Sunni led Sunni Awakening Movement which has about 70,000 soldiers. The foreign minister’s optimism is undoubtedly important, but yesterday, the chief of police of Mosul was killed in a bomb explosion.
Iraqi leaders are anxious to conclude a bilateral treaty with the United States which makes clear who is in charge and who commands its armed forces. He agrees the presence of American troops is the main reason his government even exists, but there is need to clarify who is responsible for the security and under whose authority do military actions occur. Mr. Zebari has worked hard to cultivate good relations with Iran but is aware Iranian agents have helped train the Shiite Mehdi Army which currently is quiet. Mr. Zebari and Shiites are still not completely happy with the emergence of the Awakening Movement since it is a Sunni military force and there is always the possibility of tension and fighting between Shiites and Sunni.
Despite the optimism of Mr. Zebari and American military leaders, it is much too early to determine if the 100 year timeline of John McCain is an over-estimation or under-estimation.