Odierno Recommits to the SOFA
Apropos of Friday’s queries about Gen. Raymond Odierno’s commitment to the U.S.-Iraq Status of Forces Agreement that guarantees the withdrawal of all U.S. forces from Iraq by 2011, take a look at his interview with CNN yesterday, which might have been lost amid the good news of Richard Phillips’ rescue from the Somali pirates:
[L]et me remind everyone what change was in December when the United States and the government of Iraq signed an agreement, a bilateral agreement that put the timeline in place, that said we would withdraw all our forces by 31 December, 2011.
In my mind, that was historic. It allowed Iraq to prove that it has its own sovereignty. It allows them, now, to move forward and take control, which was always — it’s always been our goal, is that they can control the stability in their country.
So I think I feel comfortable with that timeline. I did back in December. I do now. We continue to work with the government of Iraq so they can meet that timeline, so that they are able to maintain stability once we leave. I still believe we’re on track with that, as we talk about this today.
As he told The Times of London last week, Odierno reiterated that violence in the Iraqi north may lead him to recommend keeping U.S. forces in Mosul past the June 30 deadline for troops to fall back from the cities. But he also reiterated that it’s ultimately Prime Minister Maliki’s call. On the broader issue of how likely it is that U.S. troops will leave Iraq by 2011 — a question asked by John King of CNN that overlooked the SOFA for some reason — Odierno replied, “