I try to learn as much as I can about foreign cultures. And I’m learning that it’s very difficult to translate the nuances of the Arabic of Iraqi leaders when they’re speaking at variance with the talking points of the Bush White House. Language is a funny thing.
Along those lines, Dr. Ali al-Dabbagh, who the Times calls a spokesman for the Iraqi government, has released a statement saying that Prime Minister Maliki’s statement was “misunderstood and mistranslated” and “not conveyed accurately regarding the vision of Senator Barack Obama, U.S. presidential candidate, on the timeframe for U.S. forces withdrawal from Iraq.” But as the Times notes al Dabbagh did not specify what had been mistranslated.
Another interesting detail, noted by the Times. al-Dabbagh’s statement was released by CentCom. I do not know how often Iraqi government statements are released by CentCom.
In any case, here’s the rest of al-Dabbagh’s ‘clarification‘ …
Al-Dabbagh explained that Mr. al-Maliki confirmed the existence of an Iraqi vision stems from the reality with regard to Iraq security needs, as the positive developments of the security situation and the improvement witnessed in Iraqi cities makes the subject of U.S. forces’ withdrawal within prospects, horizons and timetables agreed upon and in the light of the continuing positive developments on the ground, and security that came within the Strategic Plan for Cooperation which was laid and developed by Mr. Maliki and President George Bush. The Iraqi government appreciates and values the efforts of all the friends who continue to support and supporting Iraqi security forces.
Al-Dabbagh underscored that the statements made by the head of the ministerial council (Prime Minister al-Maliki) or any of the members of the Iraqi government should not be understood as support to any U.S. presidential candidates.
Late Update: CNN plays it pretty straightforwardly as a mistranslation. Considerably more credulous than the Times.