Iraqi PM Blames US for Chaos
By Jay Price
BAGHDAD, Iraq - Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki continued his open
dispute with American officials Thursday, blaming the United States-led
coalition for Iraq's chaos and faulting its military strategy.
His sharp comments, in an interview with Reuters, came as the White
House and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld sought to play down the
idea of a growing rift between the United States and the Iraq government.
Rumsfeld urged critics of administration policy "to just back off" and "relax."
According to a partial transcript of the interview distributed by Reuters,
al-Maliki said he thought that Iraqi troops, left to their own devices, could
re-establish order in Iraq in six months, not the 12 to 18 months that top
U.S. commander Gen. William Casey had predicted Tuesday.
Al-Maliki offered a different set of priorities for fighting violence than U.S.
officials, who've said the greatest threat to Iraq comes from death squads
aligned with Shiite Muslim militias. In recounting a meeting with the head of
one of those militias, cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, al-Maliki said he and al-Sadr
agreed "that the efforts for all political groups should be focused on the most
dangerous challenge, which is al-Qaida and the Saddam Baathists." Both those
groups are made up primarily of Sunni Muslims.
Al-Maliki also said U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad was "not accurate" when
he said Tuesday that the Iraqi government had agreed to a timetable for dealing
with Iraq's problems.
The interview came as Bush administration officials in Washington continued
to try to explain their position on setting "benchmarks" for Iraqi government
actions. With just days to go before the midterm congressional election,
Democrats and some Republicans have suggested that the U.S. begin
withdrawing troops if the Iraqi government doesn't meet goals on time.
Rumsfeld said Thursday that there'd be no set dates for Iraqi leaders to
meet nor any penalties imposed if they failed to meet goals.
He also said U.S. officials planned to increase spending on Iraq's army and
police, but didn't say how much. The $70 billion in war spending that
lawmakers tacked on to the 2007 defense-spending bill includes $1.7
billion to train and equip Iraq's security forces.
this bit made me laugh... it made me think of south park the movie...
so, the point i would like to raise is, if al quaida really are mostly made up of sunnis, then why do america consider the shi-ites to be the bigger threat...? i thought al quaida were supposed to be the enemy to fear...? that is if they exist, of course... (oh no, have i opened up a can of worms...?)