Yesterday's UK Telegraph carried a story by Damien McElroy headlined "Iraqi Leader Tells Bush: Get Petraeus Out," in which he alleged that Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki and commander of US forces in Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus had stand-up shouting matches about strategy. McElroy claims that at one meeting, PM Maliki told Gen. Petaeus:
"I can't deal with you anymore. I will ask for someone else to replace you."
Pretty damning stuff - except that it is bogus. Here is what Col. Steven Boylan, chief public affairs officer for Multi-National Force-Iraq told this writer on the record in an e-mail:
Update: Douglas Hanson writes:
"Gen Petraeus and the Prime Minister have never had a stand-up shouting match. This is a totally fabricated story.
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 and continue to do so. Based on what is at stake here; that is what is needed and it should be expected that both are able to have very open and frank dialogue.
Gen Petraeus and other key staff have sat in on every video teleconference with PM Maliki and President Bush. Those statements have never been even hinted at. In addition, PM Maliki has never said what is quoted in the Telegraph to Gen Petraeus."
I checked further on what Multi-national Force - Iraq had to say about him and found the following backgrounder discussing key aspects of his political leanings. There are strong concerns about our strategy as well as Petraeus' deference towards the Sunnis. Nevertheless, Maliki seems to be a Shiite who wants a unified Iraq, who will not kow-tow to the Mullahs of Iran and who wants the Kurds involved in the political process. As one who is an Iraqi first and foremost, it's difficult to see how Maliki could go so far as to demand the General's removal.
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki
- Born in 1950 in a Karbala village. Holds an MA in Arabic
- A member of Al-Da'wah Party since 1968
- Left Iraq in 1980 after Saddam Husayn banned Al-Da'wah Party and after he was sentenced to death in absentia
- Moved to Iran where he acted against the Iraqi regime
- Moved to Syria after he refused to fight with the Iranian Army against the Iraqi Army during the war
- Head of the Al-Da'wah Party's offices in Syria and Lebanon
- Former chief editor of Al-Mawqif newspaper, the mouthpiece of Al-Da'wah Party
- Member of the political bureau of Al-Da'wah Party
- Described as a "pragmatic politician"
- Said to enjoy good relations with most former Iraqi opposition parties
- Is said to represent the Arab identity of Al-Da'wah Party and is known not to take a pro-Iranian stand
- An advocate of Kurdish demands to normalize matters in Kirkuk