Talibani: Iraq will take over security by end of year Posted by: McQ
on Wednesday, August 02, 2006
Well, talk is cheap, but this is one promise I think all of us would be glad to see come true:
President Jalal Talabani predicted Wednesday that Iraqi troops will assume security duties for the whole country by the end of the year, even as more U.S. soldiers headed to the capital to bolster local forces struggling to contain violence.
Talabani, a Kurd from northern Iraq, said the government is confident it will vanquish extremist groups, calling the recent surge in violence as "the last arrows in their pockets."
"We are highly optimistic that we will terminate terrorism in this year," he said.
He said the U.S.-led multinational force will assume a supportive role by year's end as Iraqi troops take over security. He did not elaborate.
"The terrorists fear the unity of the Iraqi people," the president said. "Our armed forces are doing well, but we expect more from them."
OK, other than noting a little similarity between "last arrows" and "last throes", read carefully what he is saying.
He's not saying our troops will withdraw by the end of the year. He's saying that Iraqi forces will take over the dominant role in all of Iraq by the end of the year.
Now, until I see a little more info on the state of training and logistics as well as the command structure, I'll reserve judgment. And I certainly wouldn't put a little tub thumping for local consumption past President Talibani either ... after all, Baghdad is still in a low state of anarchy.
Meanwhile, about 3,700 more US troops are moving into the Baghdad area. Target? Militias:
As part of the campaign against militias, U.S. troops on Tuesday arrested a Baghdad-area representative of radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, whose Mahdi Army is among the most feared armed groups.
Iraqi army and security forces conducted four early-morning raids in Baghdad on August 1, capturing three primary suspects associated with ‘death squads’ in an ongoing effort to stem activities of these organizations.
The precision operations, conducted by Iraqi forces accompanied by coalition force observers, occurred in three areas, all in the western part of Baghdad.
In the Ashulla area of northwest Baghdad, Iraqi army forces captured two individuals, including one known high-level insurgent leader. This ‘leader’ controls several smaller cells that allegedly conduct improvised explosive device attacks against coalition forces, traffic weapons, and kidnap, torture, and murder Iraqi citizens and Iraqi soldiers. It is believed that one of his ‘punishment cells’ kidnapped and murdered 14 Iraqi soldiers in May as he looked on.
In the al Rasheed area of southwest Baghdad, Iraqi security forces conducted two separate raids and captured two primary targets. One individual is an insurgent informant alleged to be an active participant in targeting and killing Iraqi citizens. A second individual allegedly conducted a mortar attack against Baghdad International Airport, transported weapons and IEDs, and participated in the murder of Iraqi citizens.
During the fourth and final operation, an insurgent cell leader and two others were captured by Iraqi Army scouts in the Ghazaliya area of western Baghdad. This cell leader is believed to have conducted IED and rocket propelled grenade attacks against Iraqi and coalition forces; he also is believed to be involved in killing Iraqi citizens.
Each operation occurred without incident; no Iraqi or coalition forces were injured.
Apparently a new plan to quell the violence is afoot and this time it appears to be focusing on the right problem. My guess is they'll have to really clamp the lid down tightly and almost go house to house to finally defang the militias. And yes, that means more bombs, more violence and more deaths. But the militias must be disarmed, and if Iraq can manage to do that, then I think President Talibani's promise might just come true.
U.S. officials have described the Baghdad campaign as a "must-win" for al-Maliki, whose government has struggled to curb violence since taking office May 20. American troops will work alongside U.S.-trained Iraqi forces.
This particular campaign will either make or destroy the legitimacy of the new Iraqi government. No pressure there, huh? And that means the government will and must confront Muqtada al Sadr.
As part of the campaign against militias, U.S. troops on Tuesday arrested a Baghdad-area representative of radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al Sadr, whose Mahdi Army is among the most feared armed groups.
So it is shaping up to be "Gunfight at the OK Corral" time in Baghdad. The inevitable confrontation is edging closer to reality. My hope is that other clerics such as al Sistani will prevail upon al Sadr to stand down. If that happens, I can buy into Talibani's promise that Iraq will own the security of the country by year's end. If not, well, it could get very violent very quickly and that could be extremely dangerous for US troops in and around Baghdad.