LONG-TERM BASES....The Washington Post reports that the Iraqi government — not the faction that hates us, but the faction that supposedly likes us — is pretty unhappy about the status-of-forces treaty the Bush administration is trying to negotiate with them:
"The Americans are making demands that would lead to the colonization of Iraq," said Sami al-Askari, a senior Shiite politician on parliament's foreign relations committee who is close to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. "If we can't reach a fair agreement, many people think we should say, 'Goodbye, U.S. troops. We don't need you here anymore.' "I guess my honest opinion is that this is probably negotiating bluster more than anything else. Maliki, in fact, does need us in Iraq, and he knows that we know it. Still, as recently as last year Maliki wouldn't even have offered up bluster, so things really have changed since then. And the biggest change is this: public opinion in Iraq, stoked largely by the Sadrists, is now so opposed to a long-term American presence that Maliki feels like he has to win some significant concessions on this score merely to keep from being tossed out of power. Needless to say, this bodes poorly for our long-term chances in Iraq.
....In Iraq, the willingness to consider calling for the departure of American troops represents a major shift for members of the U.S.-backed government. Maliki this week visited Iran, where Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader, urged him to reject any long-term security arrangements with the United States.