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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Obama Remembers His Phone Call With The Iraqi Foreign Minister Differently Than The Minister Does

One phone call, not very long, but long enough to confuse the Democratic presumptive nominee, Barack Obama.... or Obama diliberately tried to misrepresent the conversation.

You decide.

At a press availability in Michigan, Jake Tapper, from ABC, followed up on the conversation between Barack Obama and the Iraqi Foreign Minister, Hoshyar Zebari, and asked "if Zebari had expressed any concern to him that his plans to withdrawal U.S. troops as president would undo any security advances", and Obama's answer was very clear. He said, "No, he did not express that. He did emphasize his belief that we've made real progress and I think was eager to see political accommodations between the factions follow up in the wake of this progress."

It seems as if Zebari has a different recollection of that conversation though as reported by The Washington Post, Zebari told the editors and reporters that he met with on Tuesday, that he found "Mr. Obama's proposal worrying".

Zebari recalls the conversation between the two men a little differently saying that he told Mr. Obama that "Iraq was not an island", saying that meant that an American withdrawal that destabilized the country would also roil the region around it and embolden U.S. adversaries such as al-Qaeda and Iran. He also says that he told Obama, "We have a deadly enemy. When he sees that you commit yourself to a certain timetable, he will use this to increase pressure and attacks, to make it look as though he is forcing you out. We have many actors who would love to take advantage of that opportunity."

Zebari says he was very clear to Obama, stating, "Really, we are making progress. I hope any actions you will take will not endanger this progress."

Then he claims that Obama made him some assurances:

He said he was reassured by the candidate's response, which caused him to think that Mr. Obama might not differ all that much from Mr. McCain. Mr. Zebari said that in addition to promising a visit, Mr. Obama said that "if there would be a Democratic administration, it will not take any irresponsible, reckless, sudden decisions or action to endanger your gains, your achievements, your stability or security. Whatever decision he will reach will be made through close consultation with the Iraqi government and U.S. military commanders in the field."

This brings up a couple questions.... who has more to gain about misrepresenting that conversation? Obama or Zebari?

Secondly, did Obama admit that any decisions made about Iraq would be determined by conditions on the ground and would not endanger the gains, achievements, stability and security of Iraq?

I though Obama thought that plan was a "failed policy".

A "he said, she said", type of scenario, but I have to wonder if that conversation was recorded, because the audio and/or exact transcript would answer these questions easily enough.