Skip to comments.Iraqis ready to replace British troops
Posted on 03/22/2007 8:51:42 PM PDT by NormsRevenge
LONDON - Iraq's defense minister said Wednesday his commanders were surprised when Britain recently announced plans to withdraw some of its troops from Iraq, but that his country's forces will be ready to replace them.
"I am absolutely confident that Iraq's army is quite ready to meet the challenges, even if the withdrawal becomes quite sudden," Defense Minister Abdul-Qader Mohammed Jassim said at a news conference.
On Tuesday, Iraqi forces in southern Iraq replaced British troops at a frequently targeted base in Basra.
The British commander, Maj. Gen. Jonathan Shaw, said the move was part of the plan to shift most security responsibilities to the Iraqis. He said his soldiers would now enter the streets of the oil port city only in exceptional circumstances.
Last month, Prime Minister Tony Blair announced that Britain will reduce its force in Iraq from 7,100 to 5,500 in the coming months.
Some 125 British personnel have died in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion four years ago.
During his news conference at the Iraqi Embassy in London, Jassim said 2007 will be a crucial year for the ongoing training of Iraq's army so it can operate independently, without the routine support it now requires from coalition soldiers, artillery and air forces.
He said Iraqi commanders in southern Iraq were "surprised by the British announcing they would pull out 1,600 soldiers from Basra," and responded by moving forward by several months a timetable to bring a new brigade of about 5,000 Iraqi soldiers into the southern city.
But Jassim also said Blair's government has made it clear that "the departure of the British is dependent on the readiness of the Iraqis."
The defense minister said Iraq's military is still struggling to replace the logistics, communication and transportation equipment it had before the fall of Saddam Hussein, and he urged withdrawing British forces to leave their bases and equipment behind for Iraq's army.
On another issue, Jassim said Iraq's government is conducting "daily and behind-the-scenes negotiations" with some insurgent groups, except al-Qaida in Iraq or any militants allied with it.
Jassim, a member of Iraq's Sunni-Arab minority, said he hopes such channels of communication will one day lead to agreements with insurgents. But he said such groups must stop killing Iraqi civilians in suicide bombings and other attacks, and support Iraq's democratically-elected government.
Iraq's Defense Minister Abdul-Qader Mohammed Jassim speaks during his news conference in London Wednesday, March 21, 2007. Iraq's defense minister said Wednesday his commanders were surprised when Britain recently announced plans to withdraw some of its troops from Iraq, but that his country's forces will be ready to replace them. (AP PHOTO/Max Nash)
People gather around a a bomb crater in Ramadi, 115 kilometers (70 miles) west of Baghdad, Iraq, Thursday, March 22, 2007. According to Iraqi police, Coalition warplanes destroyed two houses in central Ramadi Wednesday night, killing a man and wounding five others. (AP Photo)
An Iraqi police commando frisks a motorcycle driver at a checkpoint in Baghdad. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon flew into war-torn Baghdad for previously unannounced talks with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, and expressed confidence that Iraq could build a better future with international help just moments before flinching at the sound of a nearby mortar attack.(AFP/Ali Yussef)
World history will reflect well in the end on this endeavor, rats and leftists be d*mned...
A US military Apache helicopter flies over a plume of smoke as it provides security during a meeting between UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki in Baghdad. Ban has expressed confidence that Iraq could build a better future with international help just moments before flinching at the sound of a nearby mortar attack.(AFP/Patrick Baz)
First they need to get a few UK sailors and marines back from Iran today...
This one makes it twice Iran has gotten froggy with Her Majesty's navy!!
But rest easy...The French are now in the Gulf...
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.