WaPo Prints Maliki 'No Civil War' in Iraq Story on Page A15

September 25th, 2007 4:55 PM

I suppose that Karen DeYoung's story could have been buried deeper in the Washington Post, but it would take some effort:

Civil war has been averted in Iraq and Iranian intervention there has "ceased to exist," Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said yesterday.

"I can't say there is a picture of roses and flowers in Iraq," Maliki told the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. "However, I can say that the greatest victory, of which I am proud . . . is stopping the explosion of a sectarian war." That possibility, he said, "is now far away."

While political reconciliation is not yet complete, he said, progress is being made. "Reconciliation is not a decision that can be made, but a process that takes continuous efforts and also needs strategic patience," Maliki said.

He said cabinet ministers who have left his government in protest will be replaced, and he expressed confidence that the Iraqi parliament will pass legislation that he, the Bush administration and Congress have demanded.

Maliki, who will speak to the U.N. General Assembly tomorrow, deftly dodged questions about last week's incident in which employees of Blackwater, a private U.S. security firm, allegedly killed 11 Iraqi civilians. While "initial signs" are that "there was some wrongdoing from Blackwater," he said, he will await the results of a U.S.-Iraqi investigation. He dismissed a statement by the interior minister in Baghdad that Blackwater will be banned from Iraq, saying the positions of the ministry and his office are "the same."

Iraqi security forces, Maliki said, are increasingly capable of operating without U.S. support. But he agreed with the Bush administration that an early U.S. withdrawal would be unwise.

Iraq's political leadership, he said through an interpreter, "wants the process of withdrawing troops to happen [simultaneously with] the process of rebuilding Iraqi Security Forces so that they can take responsibility." No one, he said, "wants to risk losing all the achievements" they have made.

Whether or not you agree with al-Maliki's assessment (and there is plenty of room to doubt his pronouncements from both the right and the left), you would think that the Iraqi Prime Minister's statements that the threat of a full-on sectarian war " had ceased to exist" along with Iran's involvement in meddling in Iraq, would be page A1 material.

After all, American politics, foreign and domestic, are being driven by the actions and reactions of Democratic and Republican politicians to news in Iraq.

You might think that a strong claim of positive news--and there is no way to say this is anything other than that sort of claim--would be wildly trumpeted by the Post, if for no other reason than to generate ad revenue and hits that would come from such a controversial claim.