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The White House has responded to press accounts of the alleged dispute between Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki and U.S. Ambassador Khalilzad and General Casey. (Yes, I'm convinced they read Mudville in the White House.)
Of note is this quote - sourced to the BBC:
In Yesterday's Press Conference, Prime Minister Maliki Was Asked Whether The United States Had Set A "Timetable For The Withdrawal Of Foreign Forces From Iraq Within 18 Months."As I suspected - a question phrased to mischaracterize the original statement from Khalilzad.
That also explains this quote from Maliki in yesterday's report:
The prime minister dismissed U.S. talk of timelines as driven by the coming midterm elections in the United States. "I am positive that this is not the official policy of the American government but rather a result of the ongoing election campaign. And that does not concern us much," he said.Read that as his acknowledgement that the actual question was being phrased by a reporter, and not the U.S. government (i.e. Khalilzad) and it all fits together - Maliki knows it's the press statements that are driven by the elections, and which "does not concern us much". The actions of the U.S. government obviously concern him very deeply - no one could believe otherwise.
But enough of yesterday's news - on to Maliki's bombshell for today - in which he declares that he can get the job done sooner than the most optimistic U.S. timeline anyway:
Iraq's prime minister said on Thursday he could get violence under control in six months, half the time U.S. generals say they need, provided Washington gave him more weaponry and more say over his own forces.That kind of leadership is exactly what is needed in Iraq - I say we give him what he wants, get out of the way as much as possible, and see what happens in six months.
"They think building Iraqi forces will need 12 to 18 months, for us to be in control of security," Maliki said, referring to remarks two days ago by U.S. commander General George Casey.
"We agree our forces need work but think that if, as we are asking, the rebuilding of our forces was in our own hands, then it would take not 12-18 months but six might be enough."
"I am now prime minister and overall commander of the armed forces yet I cannot move a single company without Coalition approval because of the U.N. mandate," Maliki said.
"I have to be careful fighting some militias and terrorists ... because they are better armed than the army and police," Maliki said. "The police are sharing rifles."
Asked what kind of Iraqi forces he wanted, Maliki said: "I'm not talking about modern tanks or modern warplanes and missiles ... I'm talking about having a well-trained army, swift and light on its feet and at the same time with medium weapons."
By the way, why wasn't this the biggest headline story of the day?
Good question. That's a huge issue, and this is the first place I'm seeing it. One thing I can definitely agree with the lefties about: the media does a lousy job of covering the news. (And the White House? Geez, I get excited when I see someone from the House in my referrer logs. ;)Posted by Andrew Olmsted at October 27, 2006 03:56 AM
Yes he sounds confident and like he can accomplish his and the U.S. goals.
But...according to the U.S. Military that is training the Iraqi Army and is going on missions with them, they are not ready to be put into the fight alone and won't be for many months.
Not just because they don't have enough equipment, which our troops say is true, but because the IA is just not proficient enough at this point to fight the insurgents or the terrorists on their own.
They still have basic problems like keeping the Iraqis in training, many go awol, simply quit or just disappear. Many get paid and thats the last anyone sees of them.
There are other problems such as lack of agression on the IA soldiers part and the shortage of qualified IA noncoms. In fact there are hundreds of problems, but that should be expected with troops that are brand new and learning from someone who doesn't even speak their language or know their customs.
Some IA units are much better than others, some need to be shook out and started back from day one. Some are actually very good, but those are the IA "special forces" units, which are few and not very robust.
You can learn a lot from reading milblogs, it's not all about how the wind blew or how good the food is or how they like the packages sent to them.
At least it was. How it will be now that the military has created a new watchdog for the blogs, I don't know. We may not be able to learn anything of value in the future, about what is going on "over there".
Maliki may have let his wishes and wants come out as something that his troops may not be able to fulfill.
1 - Great to hear from you Andrew!
2. Papa Ray, I think one of the problems in our approach to Iraq is we expect a bit too much from the Iraqi Army - short version is the "good enough" vs "good as us" level.
With few exceptions I expect individual Iraqi units probably won't be able to operate beyond their provinces or tribal areas. But we expect them to. Example: The "small town" troops don't want to go to Baghdad, fine, they'll have to recruit from Baghdad. There are other examples of similar problems - and Maliki understands these problems better than we do.
When the Prime Minister says "we can do it" it's incumbent on us to give him the chance. Read carefully though - he's not saying he can establish peace in six months.Posted by Greyhawk at October 27, 2006 05:38 AM
Excerpted and linked at Bill's Bites >> Good News/Bad News (Updates 1 & 2)Posted by Bill Faith at October 27, 2006 08:02 AM
What I find frustrating is that the MSM consistently misquotes and takes out of context everything Maliki and Talabani actually say. What makes it worse is that I can never find any transcripts of their press conferences and have to rely on the op-eds..er I mean news stories as put out by AP and Reuters. Does anyone know a good resource to find transcripts of the Iraqi government press conferences?Posted by Matt H at October 27, 2006 02:31 PM
"What I find frustrating is that the MSM consistently misquotes and takes out of context everything Maliki and Talabani actually say. What makes it worse is that I can never find any transcripts of their press conferences and have to rely on the op-eds..er I mean news stories as put out by AP and Reuters. Does anyone know a good resource to find transcripts of the Iraqi government press conferences?"
- Matt H.
there's a big hole in the info war right there.