Monday, September 10, 2007


Al-Maliki admits Iraqi troops aren't ready to take over security

Security, Politics
(CNN) -- Iraq's prime minister Monday touted his government's efforts in thwarting "sectarian war" and acknowledged that Iraqi troops are not yet ready to fully take over security duties from the U.S.-led coalition.
"We have succeeded in preventing Iraq from going into sectarian war -- which threatened our dear Iraq -- and I am fully confident that national reconciliation is our only way that takes Iraq into safety in spite of all the destabilizing actions by local and international groups," said al-Maliki, who addressed the country's parliament, the Council of Representatives.
"Despite the security improvement, we still need more efforts and time in order for our armed forces to be able to take over security control in all Iraqi provinces from the multinational forces that helped us in a great way in fighting terrorism and outlaws" he told parliament.
Al-Maliki's comments came hours before U.S. Gen. David Petraeus and U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker were to appear before Congress to deliver reports on military and political progress in Iraq. Both men have expressed disappointment in the al-Maliki government's efforts to foster national reconciliation and are expected to underscore their concerns about the environment in Iraq, which has been wracked by insurgent violence and sectarian civil warfare.
At the same time, they are expected to tout some military strides, including more support from Sunni tribes against al Qaeda in Iraq and more security in Baghdad. Al-Maliki said there has been a 75 percent drop in violence in Baghdad and nearby areas since the beefed-up Baghdad security plan started early in the year. "The key to reconstruction, economic development and improving peoples' standard of living is security," he said.
The prime minister's comments about Iraqi troop readiness jibes with last week's report from the Independent Commission on Security Forces in Iraq, headed by retired Gen. James L. Jones, the former top United States commander in Europe. It said that while there will be "continued improvement" in the "readiness and capability" of Iraqi security forces in the next 12 to 18 months, they still will not be able to "operate independently."

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