Political Maneuvering in Iraq as U.S. Confidence in Prime Minister Fades

Political Maneuvering in Iraq as U.S. Confidence in Prime Minister Fades

WASHINGTON -- Developments in Baghdad are not waiting for President Bush to end his elaborate round of consultations on what to do next in Iraq. The White House now says it will reveal its revised Iraq strategy in the new year. But on Saturday, the Iraqis are scheduled to hold an all-party reconciliation conference in an attempt to unravel the skein of crisis and violence that has brought the country to a state of virtual civil war.

Sources in Iraq said the much-postponed conference, now brought forward from its tentative date in early January, is not likely to be put off one more time because, to a large degree, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's political future now hinges on it taking place. Whether it achieves its objectives in the relentless climate of violence is another matter.

As a result of the leaked secret memo by Stephen Hadley, the president's security adviser, and the Washington visits of two other Iraqi political leaders, the administration's declining confidence in al-Maliki is now taken for granted.

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