Didn't want this dash of color (below) from Christmas Eve to be lost amid crumpled wrapping paper. It comes out of what you might call an exit interview in the NYT with the outgoing Sunni speaker of the Iraqi parliament, the explosive Mahmoud al-Mashhadani:
Mr. Mashhadani had particularly harsh words for the United States’ performance in Iraq. He had not previously been known as a strong critic [more on that below], but on Wednesday, Mr. Mashhadani described American troops as “hateful occupation forces” who were “destroying everything in Iraq.”
“They handed us a ruined state,” he said, blaming the American occupation for the subsequent sectarian violence that Iraq has only recently begun to emerge from.
The former speaker added, however, that the status of forces agreement signed between Iraq and the United States in November had been a significant embarrassment for the United States.
“The Iraqi people forced the American forces to sign a humiliating withdrawal agreement,” he said.
More on that here.
While the NYT may be shaking its head over Mashhadani's apparent transformation into a harsh critic of the US, it's worth noting the former Israqi speaker was never anything but. Here, from a June 2007 column by Terrence Jeffrey, is more on that subject, prefaced by some unfortunate bits of rah-rah PR for Mashhadani from both the ever-gullible George W, Bush and Mashhadani's erstwhile opposite number, I guess you could say, Denny Hastert:
"Iraq's new government has another able leader and speaker, Mashhadani," Bush said on May 22, 2006. "He rejects the use of violence for political ends, and by agreeing to serve in a prominent role in this new unity government, he's demonstrating leadership and courage."
Three weeks later, on a surprise trip to Iraq, Bush met with Mashhadani, who had already received rave reviews from America's own speaker. "Denny Hastert told me I'd like him," Bush said later at a press conference. "Denny met with him. And I was impressed by him."
"I found him to be a hopeful person," the president added.
But Mashhadani, an Islamist, wasted no time in giving President Bush reason to think again.
In a July 8, 2006, interview with Al Sharqiyah TV, Mashhadani presented an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory to explain what was happening in Iraq. "Those that commit these acts [of sectarian violence] are nothing but the sons of snakes and devils who receive support from abroad, particularly from the Mossad," he said. "These Jews hiding behind Iraqi faces are known to us, and the day will come when we purge our country of them."
A week later, he accused U.S. forces of butchery. "The U.S. occupation is butcher's work under the slogan of democracy and human rights and justice," he told a UN conference.
"I personally think whoever kills an American soldier in defense of his country would have a statue built for him in that country," he said.
Love those Iraqi allies of ours.