As U.S.-Iraqi troop talks faltered, Obama didn’t pick up the phone
By Roy Gutman

The omission is an unusual one, given the high priority that U.S. officials had given to achieving an agreement…


A listing of direct conversations provided by the embassy – drawn, the embassy said, from the White House website – indicates that Obama had no direct contact with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki between Feb. 13, when he telephoned the prime minister, until Friday, when he called al-Maliki to tell him U.S. troops would be withdrawn by Dec. 31.

Also absent for nearly the entire year was Biden. According to the official listing, Biden telephoned al-Maliki on Dec. 21, the day al-Maliki formed a new government, and visited here Jan. 18, but had no direct contact after that date, according to the official listing.

By Charles Hoskinson
WITH U.S. TROOPS LEAVING IRAQ, the spotlight turns to Iran’s role in that country. Both Panetta and Clinton issued warnings Tuesday to Tehran not to interfere in Iraq’s affairs. “Let me make clear that the United States maintains 40,000 troops in that region, 23,000 in Kuwait, and numbers of others in countries throughout that region,” Panetta said. “Let me make clear to them and to anybody else that America will maintain a presence in that part of the world.”

SOME ANALYSTS ON THE RIGHT ARE SAYING it’s the Obama administration that opened the door for Iran to play a key role in Iraq by empowering surrogates such as Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. AEI’s Frederick W. Kagan says the administration’s blunders – particularly the mishandling of talks over the formation of the latest government — made a deal for a future U.S. troop presence impossible. “The Iranians have defeated us in Iraq,” he said.

BROOKINGS’ MICHAEL O’HANLON DEFENDS THE PRESIDENT, saying in a POLITICO op-ed that “Iraq’s future remains in jeopardy, to be sure, but there is no way we can blame Obama for the departure of U.S. troops.” Read it here: http://politi.co/tUaoVe
Go to POLITICO Morning Defense Now >> http://www.politico.com/morningdefense

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