The US general’s letter which mentions “movement out of Iraq” was apparently just a draft, or a mistake which should never have been sent.
Whatever it was, the confusion it has created only serves to underline what a mess American policy in Iraq really is.
Does the right hand have any idea what the left is doing?
Rumours here in Baghdad are a specialty. And the latest is that the letter was deliberately put out there by the Americans as a trial balloon, which, by raising the prospect of withdrawal, might take some heat out of this crisis.
In other words, Iraqis can’t believe the Americans would be so incompetent or bungling to put such a letter out there by mistake.
Instead Iraqis are imagining a cogent explanation for it.
What is true is that overnight we watched more than a dozen helicopters land at and take off from the vast US Embassy compound in Baghdad.
Administrators and training staff are probably being airlifted out of here to more isolated and therefore safer bases elsewhere in Iraq.
What happens next is anyone’s guess.