From Philadephia Daily News:
BAGHDAD – Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki yesterday lashed out at U.S. and French politicians who have called on him to step down and accused U.S. forces of committing “big mistakes” in killing and detaining civilians in the hunt for insurgents.
It was the second outburst from the embattled leader in recent days as he has come under fire from an array of allies and adversaries who accuse him of failing to unite his cabinet and put key laws and programs in place.
He drew fresh criticism yesterday from two influential congressional Republicans.
Maliki trained his angriest words on a Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Hillary Rodman Clinton of New York, and Sen. Carl Levin (D., Mich.).
More from the article:
At a hastily called news conference after meeting with other Iraqi leaders, Maliki dismissed the calls for him to step down as “ugly interference” in Iraq’s domestic affairs.
“There are American officials who consider Iraq as if it were one of their villages, for example Hillary Clinton and Carl Levin,” he said. “They should come to their senses.”
The fractured and dysfunctional leadership has been the primary source of irritation for Iraq’s allies, in particular the United States, which in recent months has deployed an additional 28,500 troops to improve security in Iraq so the Maliki government could get to work.
Bush administration officials had hoped Maliki could show progress toward at least the most pressing objectives ahead of a report to Congress next month by U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker and Army Gen. David H. Petraeus on the state of security and the logic of keeping the U.S. troop level at its current 160,000 pinnacle.
None of the benchmarks have been met, and infighting has prevented Maliki’s cabinet from even meeting to discuss the core issues.
Nevertheless, Maliki told reporters he expected the U.S. report card to be “supportive of the government.”
In Washington, two key Republicans, Sen. John Warner of Virginia and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, joined the chorus of criticism against Maliki.
“Everyone knows that the United States and its incredibly effective military have given this government four years, an opportunity to get their act together,” McConnell said on Fox News Sunday. “By any objective standard, they haven’t done it yet. They deserve to be criticized.”
Note: This diary was written days ago, but with so much breaking news lately, this kept getting shoved back. The links are a few days old, but there is an interesting take on the subject from Juan Cole that appeared yesterday at Salon.