Manufactured conflict in Iraq
U.S. and Iraqi officials acknowledged today that differences existed between Prime Minister Nouri Maliki and the top U.S. commander but denied that the Iraqi leader wanted Gen. David H. Petraeus removed.Col. Steve Boylan of the MNFI Public Affairs Office is blunt in describing the story which originally appeared in the Telegraph:
"They are working together, even if there are differences," said Sami Askari, one of the prime minister's aides and a member of his Shiite Dawa Party.
Petraeus acknowledged the difficulties of working with Maliki to The Times during a trip to meet with Sunni militants who have begun cooperating with U.S. forces near Taji, 12 miles north of Baghdad. But the top general said the notion that Maliki wouldn't work with him was "ludicrous."
News reports Friday quoted a Shiite politician who is close to Maliki and affiliated with anti-U.S. cleric Muqtada Sadr as saying that Maliki had told Petraeus he couldn't work with him and wanted him replaced.
"I don't know where that is coming from," Petraeus said. "He and I have truly had frank conversations, but he has never yelled or stood up" from the table. "This is really, really hard stuff, and occasionally people agree to disagree."
U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker told the Associated Press last week that Maliki and Petraeus, both under pressure to produce lasting change in Iraq, have had their share of "sporty exchanges."
It is not surprising that there would be some frank exchanges, because without them it is doubtful Petraeus could have accomplished as much as he has. The disruption of the Shia militia death squads has probably caused some political problems for Malika. But only this week stories reveal how the US stood up to the Saudis who were alleging that he was conspiring with Iran. Malika is smart enough also to recognize that if he wants Gen. Petraeus to leave his army will leave with him.Gen Petraeus and the Prime Minister have never had a stand-up shouting match, and only once has Gen Petraeus even raised his voice. This is a totally fabricated story, and you should have sought a comment from me, at the least to validate the information from your so-called aides as sources.Gen Petraeus has never stated or even hinted at a "stormy relationship." Saying that they do not pull punches is very different from stormy. That means they have very frank, open and perhaps direct conversations based on what is at stake here and what is needed and should be expected from both.I formally request that the record be corrected! Gen Petraeus and other key staff have sat in on every video teleconference with PM Maliki and President Bush and never has this been even hinted at. In addition, PM Maliki has never said what is quoted here to Gen Petraeus.This must be corrected immediately and if your sources are not willing to go on the record has I have here, then there must be something wrong with the sources.