Nouri al-Maliki says no deal with the Bush administration:

He says the initial framework agreed upon was to have been an accord "between two completely sovereign states." But he says the U.S. proposals "do not take into consideration Iraq's sovereignty."

The prime minister said Friday "this is not acceptable." The American demands "violate Iraqi sovereignty. At the end, we reached a dead end."

Which is as it should be. Given that we're clearly not going to withdraw troops as long as Bush is in office, the only reasonable thing is to have the U.N. extend the resolution governing our presence there and let the bilateral relationship be formalized after the U.S. presidential election. Then we can have a debate between one candidate whose Iraq policy will be centered around trying to leave in a responsible manner, and another candidate whose Iraq policy will be centered around Bush-esque efforts to set ourselves up there permanently.

Meanwhile, some attention could be paid to Iraq's upcoming provincial elections where one suspects some shenanigans are likely in play and the U.S. and the international community should be trying to see if it's not possible to achieve a reasonably fair outcome.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to