Thursday, January 18, 2007

Iraq : Maliki Demands United States Arm His Government Properly

Rips Into Bush And Rice For Threats To His Government

The US wanted the Iraqi government to develop some teeth, and they have. But they're baring those teeth at the US. He has railed against Secretary Of State Condoleezza Rice and President Bush for their criticisms and comments where they pretty well threatened his government if they didn't crack down on the Shiite militias controlling many suburbs of Iraq.

Secretary Rice has since apologised to Maliki for saying his government was existing on "borrowed time".

Prime minister Maliki is demanding the United States give the Iraqi Army the weapons they need to clear out the militias and insurgents. But the US is reluctant to give superior weaponry to a government they still claim is in cahoots with the Iranians.

Maliki has said that the huge death tolls in Baghdad are partly the fault of the US and BushCo. policies, and if the Iraqi Army had been properly, and more effectively, armed sooner, then the casualties wouldn't have been so high.

Meanwhile, in Baghdad, US forces and the Iraqi Army are reported to be cracking down on Moqtada al-Sadr's Medhi Army. Gun fights in the streets and much chaos and bloodshed for civilians is expected to follow.

From the London Times :
America’s refusal to give Baghdad’s security forces sufficient guns and equipment has cost a great number of lives, the Iraqi Prime Minister said yesterday.

Nouri al-Maliki said the insurgency had been bloodier and prolonged because Washington had refused to part with equipment. If it released the necessary arms, US forces could “drastically” cut their numbers in three to six months, he told The Times.

In a sign of the tense relations with Washington, he chided the US for suggesting his Government was living on “borrowed time”.

Such criticism boosted Iraq’s extremists, he said, and was more a reflection of “some kind of crisis situation” in Washington after the Republicans’ midterm election losses. Mr al-Maliki conceded that his administration had made mistakes over the hanging of Saddam Hussein. But he refused to accept all criticism over the execution. When asked about the Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi’s attack on Iraq’s capital punishment laws, Mr al-

Maliki cited the Italians’ summary killing of Benito Mussolini and his stringing-up from a lamppost.

Asked how long Iraq would require US troops, Mr al-Maliki said: “If we succeed in implementing the agreement between us to speed up the equipping and providing weapons to our military forces, I think that within three to six months our need for American troops will dramatically go down. That is on condition that there are real, strong efforts to support our military forces and equipping and arming them.”

The US Government is wary of handing over large amounts of military hardware to the Iraqis because it has sometimes ended up in the hands of militias and insurgents.

Although Mr al-Maliki’s tone was measured throughout, he is clearly irritated at US criticism that he has failed to curb Shia militias.

Robert Gates, the new US Defence Secretary, said that Mr al-Maliki could lose his job if he failed to stop communal bloodshed and Condoleezza Rice, the Secretary of State, gave a warning that he was living on “borrowed time” and that American patience was running out.

Challenged on the point, Mr al-Maliki remarked acidly: “Certain officials are going through a crisis. Secretary Rice is expressing her own point of view if she thinks that the Government is on borrowed time, whether it is borrowed time for the Iraqi Government or American Administration. I don’t think we are on borrowed time.”

He added: “I wish that we could receive strong messages of support from the US so we don’t give some boost to the terrorists and make them feel that they might have achieved success. I believe that such statements give moral boosts to the terrorists and push them towards making an extra effort and making them believe that they have defeated the American Administration, but I can tell you that they haven’t defeated the Iraqi Government.”

He rejected the accusation that his Government was “lenient” with Shia militias, saying 400 al-Mahdi Army members had been arrested in recent days, in crackdowns in southern towns such as Karbala, Samawa, Diwaniya and al-Nasiriya.

And he insisted that he was prepared to fulfil his promises to Washington and confront the militias of Shia parties within his coalition, including Moqtada al-Sadr’s widely feared al-Mahdi Army. He conceded that some “sectarian” acts were being perpetrated. But he said there would not be a civil war because Sunni and Shia had lived in peace for many years

A report on the 'war' Maliki is now said to be raging against the Medhi Army and Shiite militias, just as he promised the Americans he would.

From the Washington Times :

Mahdi Army fighters said yesterday they were under siege in their Sadr City stronghold as U.S. and Iraqi troops killed or seized key commanders in nighttime raids. Two commanders of the Shi'ite militia said Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has stopped protecting the group under pressure from Washington and threats from Sunni Muslim Arab governments.

The commanders' accounts of a growing siege mentality inside the organization could represent a tactical and propaganda feint, but there was mounting evidence the militia was increasingly off balance and had ordered its gunmen to melt into the population. To avoid capture, commanders report no longer using cell phones and fighters are removing their black uniforms and hiding their weapons during the day.

Violence continued in Baghdad yesterday, claiming 59 lives, including 10 from a triple car bombing at a vegetable market.

An al Qaeda-linked coalition of Iraqi Sunni insurgents claimed responsibility for an attack on a convoy of the Washington-based National Democratic Institute. The attack Wednesday killed Andrea Parhamovich, 28, of Perry, Ohio, and three security contractors from Hungary, Croatia and Iraq.

During much of his nearly eight months in office, Mr. al-Maliki has blocked or ordered an end to many U.S.-led operations against the Mahdi Army, which is run by radical Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, the prime minister's key political backer. But he reportedly had a change of heart in late November while going into a meeting in Jordan with President Bush.

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