US could shift timetable for Iraq withdrawal

Obama's timetable for withdrawal of U.S. troops in Iraq next year could be changed if the country's January election is postponed, a senior Pentagon official said.

US could shift timetable for Iraq withdrawal

President Barack Obama's timetable for withdrawal of U.S. troops in Iraq next year could be changed if the country's January election is postponed, a senior Pentagon official said on Wednesday.

Any delay in withdrawing U.S. forces from Iraq could make it harder for the U.S. military to send 40,000 more troops to Afghanistan, as proposed by the top U.S. and NATO commander there.

Obama has yet to decide on General Stanley McChrystal's request.

Iraqi parliament has so far failed to agree on a law that will determine how the next election is run.

Obama personally pressed Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki at the White House on Tuesday to complete the election law so the poll can take place as planned on Jan. 16.

The election could put to the test the U.S. timeline for ending its combat mission on Aug. 31, 2010.

Pentagon policy chief Michele Flournoy said Iraqi leaders had "another week or two" to try to work out their differences over the new election law, but could also opt to use a 2005 law as a "fallback" and remain on schedule.

If an agreement is not reached soon, she said, the United States would then have to "engage with the government of Iraq to do some contingency planning on how to secure the elections at a later date, and that might well have implications."

Drawdown plans could be changed

Rep. Howard McKeon, the top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, said he was concerned that Obama's timetable for a withdrawal left the top U.S. commander in Iraq "little room to maneuver" if the election is delayed.

The commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, General Ray Odierno, said earlier this month that he expected the number of U.S. troops in Iraq to drop to as few as 110,000 by the end of this year. There currently are about 119,000.

So far, the U.S. military shows no sign of slowing its withdrawal.

Reuters
Last Mod: 21 Ekim 2009, 20:41
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