BY TAYLOR MARSH
Al Maliki is trying to convince Tehran that they should not be threatened by the U.S. security agreement Bush is trying to force down Iraq's throat. You know, that same agreement Bush is not going to Congress with, even though it's tantamount to a treaty.
Bush's U.S. security pact is meeting with a lot of resistance in Iraq by its political leaders.
...In a letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert Gates, four senior members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last week accused the Bush administration of reneging on its promise of transparency with the Congress on the negotiating process. The bipartisan letter said the administration had committed to consulting closely with Congress "throughout the entire process" but that "scant detail" has been forthcoming so far. ...The Maliki government wants the agreement with the US to replace a United Nations mandate for the stationing of foreign forces in the country, which expires at year's end. But its growing economic and political relationship with Tehran is testing its ability to simultaneously pursue a US-Iraqi accord.
... But opponents insist the US military presence aggravates Iraq's security issues.
"We are told the US military is needed because Iraq would otherwise descend into sectarian fighting, Al Qaeda would reestablish its presence, and Ã¢â‚¬Â¦ Iraq will fall under the grip of Iran," says Nadim al-Jaberi, a parliamentarian from the Shiite Virtue Party, who, like Sheikh al-Alayyan, was in Washington last week. "Actually the withdrawal of US forces would nullify these problems," he says. "The paradox is that, in the case of Al Qaeda, for example, they had no presence [in Iraq] until the invasion resulted in a heavy American military presence." ...