Skip to comments.Iraqi citizens, Coalition force can move Iraq toward peaceful future
Posted on 09/24/2006 1:29:32 PM PDT by SandRat
BAGHDAD Iraqi and Coalition force troops have the military capacity, and the Iraqi people have the political will, to get Iraq under control and moving toward a peaceful future, U.S. commanders in the Middle East said recently.
But despite solid joint security planning efforts, an increase in U.S. and Iraqi troops in Baghdad and a collective will for peace among the Iraqi people, U.S. officials predict the upcoming Muslim holy month of Ramadan could be marred by high levels of violence as insurgents and terrorists try to sew sectarian division and weaken Iraqi and Coalition resolve.
Army Gen. John Abizaid, commander of U.S. Central Command, said he expects violence to escalate during Ramadan, which begins over the weekend. The number of attacks is always up during this time, the general explained, but Coalition and Iraqi forces are prepared to provide a stable environment for Iraqis to observe the holy period.
Iraqi religious leaders called for peace and a rest from sectarian killings. According to a report by Agence France Press, Mahmud Mahdi al-Sumaydaie, the Sunni imam of Baghdads Umm al-Qura mosque, delivered a Friday sermon urging a halt to violence.
I call upon all promoters of violence to strike a truce at least in Ramadan and let people alone with their prayers, Sumaydaie said. Ramadan should be without killings and militias.
The sacred month of fasting and purification begins with the sighting of the new moon, terminating with the four-day celebration of Eid al-Fitr at the next new moon. Muslims are called on to refrain from food, drink, smoking and marital sex from sunrise to sunset, imitating the practices of the Prophet Muhammad. The holy Quran, the sacred Muslim text, is said to have been delivered to Muhammad on the 27th night of Ramadan, Lailat al-Kadar or the Night of Power.
Army Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the commanding general of Multi-National Force Iraq, echoed the warning that there would be bloodshed during the month, potentially at an even higher level than over the summer, as terrorists attempt to score propaganda points.
Were in a war here and in any war you conduct an action and the enemy reacts and then you counteract. Thats the cycle and thats the sine wave, he told CBS Radio. That cycle will continue until we succeed here.
Caseys words reflected the broader U.S. security strategy for both Iraq and the region - combating extremist ideology and capabilities as part of the War on Terror.
Our orders are to stay out in the region, to stabilize the region, to make the region much less conducive to the extremist threats that exist throughout, Abizaid told PBS Jim Lehrer. And it's absolutely clear to me the enemy has made Iraq the central front in the battle - not us, but the enemy. And because of that, we are fighting at the right place at the right time, and we need to get it under control.
Quelling sectarian violence is an important initiative for Coalition and Iraqi forces, but it poses a big challenge, Abizaid said. Its hard to track the small, cellular groups that move about Baghdad, going after both pre-designated and random targets, he said.
The capital city is the epicenter of sectarian violence, Abizaid said, but in the areas where U.S. and Iraqi forces have conducted targeted operations, the violence has decreased.
We're moving step by step, section by section, and it will take some time, he explained. We will begin to really see whether or not we're being successful in a month or two.
In an interview with the Associated Press, Casey described Baghdad security in similar terms, saying that stabilizing the city is critical to the overall campaign.
In military parlance we would say its the center of gravity for the country. Everybody knows that; we know that, the bad guys know that, the Iraqis know it, Casey said. We have to help the Iraqis secure their capital if they are going to go forward, and I think they are committed to doing that.
In order to completely stop the sectarian violence, Iraqi and U.S. Special Forces have to target the death squads that have been behind so many murders, Abizaid said. These militias have to be brought under governmental control, and a reconciliation program needs to be developed to give the Iraqi people a sense of security and hope.
Based on continued sectarian violence in Baghdad, the training of the Iraqi security forces and conditions in other areas of the country, the number of U.S. troops in Iraq is likely to remain the same until next spring, Abizaid said. Fluctuations in numbers may occur as time goes on, he said, but the goal is to shift the balance so Iraqi forces are in the lead and Coalition forces take a supporting role.
The answer ultimately is to send more Iraqi forces in there, he said. Ultimately, the answer is to have Iraqi police first, Iraqi military second and U.S. forces playing an over-watch role.
Casey insisted the U.S. troop level is sufficient to meet the challenge.
I am not going to request or ask for one more U.S. troop to come over here and do this when Ive got 300,000 Iraqis that can do the job, he said.
The U.S. has put enormous effort into training the Iraqi security forces to take responsibility for their own country, and every day those forces improve, Abizaid said. More U.S. troops in Iraq would not be the answer, because it would take responsibility away from the Iraqis.
The country is at the point where the Iraqis need, and want, to take responsibility, he explained.
We've got to ensure that, first and foremost, people understand it's primarily an Iraqi job to maintain security, he said. We use American forces where it really requires military effort.
Casey offered a similar assessment to ABC Radio, framing the Coalition security plan for Iraq as a series of transitions.
We gradually work with the Iraqi Security Forces. We try to bring the insurgency and the violence down to levels they can ultimately contain and defeat, Casey said.
The Iraqi government is facing a lot of challenges as it builds a democracy in the heart of the Middle East, Abizaid said, at the same time he expressed confidence the Iraqi people have the ability and the determination to see their country through.
I believe that we've got a rare opportunity to be in front of the extremist ideology, he said. We can deliver it a very sharp blow that will not allow it to become mainstream anywhere.
The permanent US-Iraq relationship is going to be an interesting one. Remember that we have built the mother of all embassies there. It is enormous.
Right after the December election, the US will begin negotiating with them on a Status of Forces agreement like we had with Germany. By then, all 10 of their Army Divisions will be under their Corps command structure. Though the US military will mostly stay on our installations, the emphasis will be on building up their Air Forces.
Our intentions from that point are not Iraqi-oriented, but to establish our "Africa Command".
I've got visions of the Palm Tree with the US Eagle superimposed at the center of the tree trunk as the emblem of the Command.
Yeah, that is a pretty irresistable comparison.
I actually knew an American GI who had served in North Africa. He had some impressively unpleasant tales to tell.
Knew a Marine Captain that drove a flat desert tan VW Thing and had a Flat Black Palm Tree with the USMC Globe and Anchor on each door. They stretched from window to rocker panel.
Hey, SandRat! Wonder if you got a Freepmail from a newbie troll, randal77? It had the name of this thread in the subject line. randal77 wants us to know that the War on Islamic Terrorism is making the muzzies mad!
Nope! Just checked my mail and no randal77 troll crap there.
Lucky you. I'll keep track and let you know when he gets zotted.
The RATS are right about one thing....the sectarian tensions are not going to be solved by US troops. Its time for Al-Maliki to stand up, formally reject the interferance of Iran and Syria, integrate the militias into his armed forces and stop the blood bathes before the situation spirals out of control, which is whats going to happen if he continues to do nothing.