So supporters of an indefinite U.S. military presence in Iraq have a point – the U.S. might well have stayed Maliki's hand and lent a degree of stability to Iraq that will otherwise be missing. But this also demonstrates quite clearly that actually creating an Iraq that does not descend into violence the moment the paternalistic hand of the U.S. military is withdrawn was going to be the work of decades – or more. And that's if everything went well – and there's no reason to believe that it would have. Asking large numbers of troops to stay inside Iraq as a hostage to Iraqi political squabbling is a huge investment at a time when the U.S. has other pressing needs around the world (and at home).
Joel Wing says that Maliki is reneging on his promise to forego a third term:
The prime minister has successfully out maneuvered all of his rivals and allies, and is increasingly centralizing power around him. Given his current position, there was no reason to believe that he would give it all up, because of protests that have largely subsided. Saying that he would not seek a third term was simply one of many promises that Maliki made at that time to get people off the streets, so that he could go back to consolidating his hold over the country. For a short period, it appeared that Iraq might face the same changes as occurred in other neighboring countries during the Arab Spring. The prime minister was able to tackle them just as he has his opponents, and the demonstrations brought about no real changes to the country.
More on Iraq after the withdrawal here.