Damien McElroy, foreign affairs correspondent for the U.K.'s Telegraph, "headlines" today: Iraqi leader tells Bush: Get Gen Petraeus out:
Relations between the top United States general in Iraq and Nouri al-Maliki, the country's prime minister, are so bad that the Iraqi leader made a direct appeal for his removal to President George W Bush.
Although the call was rejected, aides to both men admit that Mr Maliki and Gen David Petraeus engage in frequent stand-up shouting matches, differing particularly over the US general's moves to arm Sunni tribesmen to fight al-Qa'eda.
One Iraqi source said Mr Maliki used a video conference with Mr Bush to call for the general's signature strategy to be scrapped. "He told Bush that if Petraeus continues, he would arm Shia militias," said the official. "Bush told Maliki to calm down."
At another meeting with Gen Petraeus, Mr Maliki said: "I can't deal with you any more. I will ask for someone else to replace you."
One problem - the events as reported in the Telegraph never happened. This from COL Steve Boylan, MNF-I CG Public Affairs Officer, in an e-mail he sent earlier today to McElroy:
Gen Petraeus and the Prime Minister have never had a stand-up shouting match, and only once has Gen Petraeus even raised his voice. This is a totally fabricated story, and you should have sought a comment from me, at the least to validate the information from your so-called aides as sources.
Gen Petraeus has never stated or even hinted at a "stormy relationship." Saying that they do not pull punches is very different from stormy. That means they have very frank, open and perhaps direct conversations based on what is at stake here and what is needed and should be expected from both.
I formally request that the record be corrected! Gen Petraeus and other key staff have sat in on every video teleconference with PM Maliki and President Bush and never has this been even hinted at. In addition, PM Maliki has never said what is quoted here to Gen Petraeus.
This must be corrected immediately and if your sources are not —to go on the record has I have here, then there must be something wrong with the sources.
Update: 28 July Los Angeles Times - Baghdad, Top U.S. Commander Downplay Reported Tensions by Molly Hennessy-Fiske.
U.S. and Iraqi officials acknowledged today that differences existed between Prime Minister Nouri Maliki and the top U.S. commander but denied that the Iraqi leader wanted Gen. David H. Petraeus removed.
"They are working together, even if there are differences," said Sami Askari, one of the prime minister's aides and a member of his Shiite Dawa Party...
News reports Friday quoted a Shiite politician who is close to Maliki and affiliated with anti-U.S. cleric Muqtada Sadr as saying that Maliki had told Petraeus he couldn't work with him and wanted him replaced.
"I don't know where that is coming from," Petraeus said. "He and I have truly had frank conversations, but he has never yelled or stood up" from the table. "This is really, really hard stuff, and occasionally people agree to disagree."...
Update 2: Hat Tip PrairiePundit (Merv Benson) - Paper Backs Off Maliki-Petraeus Row
I think they are admitting that the earlier report was based on a rumor.
General Petraeus Rebuts Iraq Row Claim - London Daily Telegraph (Damien McElroy)
America's top general in Iraq yesterday quashed reports of a breakdown in his relationship with Iraq's prime minister over American support for Sunni Muslim fighters battling al-Qa'eda.
General David Petraeus poured scorn on a claim by an Iraqi politician that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki requested his dismissal after bitter rows. "I don't know where that is coming from," Gen Petraeus said. "He and I have truly had frank conversations but he has never yelled or stood up. This is really, really hard stuff, and occasionally people agree to disagree."
Col Boylan said Mr Maliki had embraced the policy but dissidents were trying to throw "sand in the gearbox" with claims the two were at loggerheads.
While exchanges between the two had been "direct," the discussions fell a long way short of Mr Maliki telling Gen Petraeus he could no longer work with him.
U.S. Denies Petraeus has Poor Ties with Iraq PM - Reuters (Ross Colvin)
Heat Rises Between Iraq PM and Petraeus - AP (Steven Hurst and Qassim Abdul Zahra)
A Bogus Story (Updated) - American Thinker (John Dwyer)
"Sporty Exchanges" - Intel Dump (Phillip Carter)
Manufactured Conflict in Iraq - PrairiePundit (Merv Benson)
Waging Information War - Outside the Beltway (Dave Schuler)
What Is Truth? - The Glittering Eye (Dave Schuler)
Earlier SWJ Fiction Award Winner - Guardian Article Misrepresents the Advisers' View