Center for American Progress

CAP Expert Katulis on Iraq’s P.M. al-Maliki’s Visit with President Obama Today
Press Release

CAP Expert Katulis on Iraq’s P.M. al-Maliki’s Visit with President Obama Today

Nouri al-Maliki, Iraq's Prime Minister, is set to meet with President Barack Obama in Washington to discuss the country's future.

By Brian Katulis, Emily Hogin | July 22, 2009

WASHINGTON, D.C. – President Barack Obama meets today with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who arrives in Washington representing a country that has seen some progress but remains troubled by power-sharing disputes. Maliki’s visit presents quite a contrast to his trip to the United States in the summer of 2006, when Iraq was slipping deeper into a civil war and senior officials in the Bush administration were wondering whether Maliki had the ability to hold the country together.

Three years later, Iraq has pulled back from the brink of total collapse, but the country still suffers from enduring divisions that the 2007 surge of U.S. troops was supposed to help bridge. The Center for American Progress described these divisions in this paper. Obama and Maliki should discuss the role of the United States in facilitating a solution to these lingering tensions in today’s talks.

Too often such diplomatic meetings and photo-opportunities like today’s take place without any real mechanisms through which to act on the shared interests and challenges discussed. But in this case, mechanisms do exist to follow up on the key issues of common interests, including the strategic framework agreement signed by the two countries last year, which outlines a set of goals for the political, economic, and security relationship with Iraq, and a security agreement that regulates the presence of U.S. troops in Iraq over the next few years. In addition to these bilateral agreements, there are international efforts to provide Iraq with support, such as the International Compact with Iraq.

The president has also made sure today’s conversation with Iraq will result in action by appointing Vice President Joe Biden as a special envoy to oversee Iraq policy. This appointment demonstrates that the president is seriously committed to facilitating a sustainable political compromise as the key to stability in Iraq. Biden’s job is extremely difficult, and one that the 2007 surge was designed to accomplish but has not yet succeeded in doing.

Read the rest of the column by Brian Katulis and Emily Hogin here.


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