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New Iraq Withdrawal Questions

It’s been a worrisome few weeks in Iraq, capped off by a very worrisome few days: 150 killed in 24 hours. A coming American-Iraqi joint assessment of the country’s security will deliver recommendations on troop status to Prime Minister Maliki. This raises the specter of an altered timetable:

The security arrangement reached in November between Washington and Bagdad calls for US forces to pull out of cities June 30 ahead of a full withdrawal from the country by late 2011.

But US and Iraqi officials were not ruling out pushing back the June 30 date, particularly in the case of Mosul seen as the last urban bastion of Al-Qaeda.

If Barack Obama truly intends to withdraw troops responsibly (not politically), he’ll remain flexible and open to the advice of commanders on the ground. He has, after all, already signed on to the largest commitments of the status of forces agreement. A return to the politicizing of Iraq would prove more dangerous than the recent spike of violence in that country.