Obama smeared by Taheri on Iraq Troop Withdrawals; Journalist Notorious for False Story on Iranian Jews; Odierno Warns Iraq still Unstable

Amir Taheri, the rightwing Iranian ‘journalist’ who is the least accurate reporter to feign practicing journalism since Gutenberg invented movable metal type accused Barack Obama of seeking “a deal to delay US troops’ from Iraq when he was in Baghdad last summer.

That makes no sense. The Iraqis have published their negotiating points, and they have been saying that they want a US withdrawal by 2010. That is virtually the same as Obama’s plan, so it is highly unlikely that he was urging them to extend that timetable to 2011 or beyond. Taheri has garbled what Iraqi Foreign Minister Zebari told him.

The Obama campaign said,

‘But Obama’s national security spokeswoman Wendy Morigi said Taheri’s article bore “as much resemblance to the truth as a McCain campaign commercial.”

In fact, Obama had told the Iraqis that they should not rush through a “Strategic Framework Agreement” governing the future of US forces until after President George W. Bush leaves office, she said.

In the face of resistance from Bush, the Democrat has long said that any such agreement must be reviewed by the US Congress as it would tie a future administration’s hands on Iraq.

“Barack Obama has never urged a delay in negotiations, nor has he urged a delay in immediately beginning a responsible drawdown of our combat brigades,” Morigi said.’

Taheri can’t get his facts right. He alleged in his piece that Iraq would form a new government after elections late this year. False. What are being planned are only provincial elections. The al-Maliki government is safe until early 2010 when the next round of parliamentary elections is scheduled to be held. Since al-Maliki has a stable constituency in the Shite south, 60% of the population, it is a little unlikely that he will be unseated.

Amir Taheri is the one who tried to get a false story started a couple of years ago that the Iranian government had passed a law requiring Iranian Jews to wear special clothing. The story was false and was denied by the Jewish member of the Iranian parliament. Taheri has a connection to the Neoconservative ‘talent’ agency, Benador Associates, whose clients helped get up the Iraq War.

If McCain trusts Taheri’s account on this one, he is setting himself up for a fall.

Lt. Gen. Ray Odierno has taken over command of US troops in Iraq and began his duties with a warning of how difficult things still are.

The success of Republican Party propaganda that Iraq is “calm” now has the disadvantage for US commanders facing daily violence that it may mislead Congress and the public into cutting the support the commanders feel is still very much necessary.

Ned Parker of the LAT argues that Iraq is now in the hands of Iran and Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki in any case, and increasingly that the scope for American action there is limited. Al-Maliki has gotten control of the Iraqi military and intelligence apparatuses and makes his decisions independently of the US. Iran has helped convince the Mahdi Army to stand down, allowing him to consolidate control over the Shiite areas. He will take control of 50,000 Sunnis in the awakening councils on October 1 and may demobilize them and even prosecute some of them for past acts of terrorism. He has also started projecting state power into parts of Iraq now patrolled by the Kurdish Peshmerga, provoking a conflict with the Kurds of some bitterness. Kurdistan Regional Government president Massoud Barzani warned on Sunday that Kurdish troops in the Iraqi army could mutiny if the Arab-Kurdish conflict deepened. Barzani’s outrage derives from his realization that Baghdad is reasserting itself under al-Maliki.

The Bush administration has declared itwill confiscate bank accounts and assets in the United States of the Association of Muslim Scholars, a clerical political party of Sunni fundamentalists, which Washington accuses of plotting terrorist actions against the Green Zone. The AMS, which has no assets anyplace the US treasury department could get at them, denies the charges.

Iraq is being flooded with weapons and Amnesty International says that the US and the UK are doing too little to interdict them.

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