Don't Know Much About Arabic

Lots and lots of people have noted this but it is worth emphasizing anew that Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki did not say what a lot of people gleefully report him as having said:

A German magazine quoted Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki as saying that he backed a proposal by presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq within 16 months.

 “U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama talks about 16 months,” he said in an interview with Der Spiegel that was released Saturday.

“That, we think, would be the right time frame for a withdrawal, with the possibility of slight changes,” he said.

But a spokesman for al-Maliki said his remarks “were misunderstood, mistranslated and not conveyed accurately.”

Government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said the possibility of troop withdrawal was based on the continuance of security improvements, echoing statements that the White House made Friday after a meeting between al-Maliki and U.S. President Bush.

So, instead of agreeing with the Obama plan as was initially reported, Maliki actually agrees with the Bush Administration plan. One would reasonably imagine that this correction should receive more attention than the initial, incorrect Spiegel report putting Maliki in line with Obama. People have all the access they need to the actual Maliki translation. It only remains to see whether they are good enough to report it.