Skip to comments.Iraq PM defends govt, urges regional cooperation
Posted on 09/09/2007 9:07:19 AM PDT by Kaslin
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq's Shi'ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said on Sunday his government had made progress on all fronts and urged neighboring countries to work together to stop what he called "evil" from destabilizing the region.
Maliki was speaking a day before top U.S. officials in Iraq deliver a long-awaited assessment to the Democrat-controlled Congress on President George W. Bush's decision to send 30,000 extra soldiers to Iraq.
The reports by the U.S. commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus, and Ambassador Ryan Crocker could influence any decision Bush takes on troop numbers amid demands from Democrats and some Republicans for U.S. forces to start leaving Iraq.
Addressing a meeting of officials from neighboring countries and Western powers such as the United States, Maliki said his government had made progress "in all directions."
"This government is working hard to develop the political situation. It has made many gains despite the huge destruction left by the former regime," Maliki said.
"We are at the beginning of the road, but at the same time, we say that what has been achieved is something promising."
Senior Democrats in the United States have slammed Maliki's performance, with some even calling for his replacement.
The assessments by Petraeus and Crocker are expected to highlight a reduction in violence in Iraq but also note the country's failure to pass laws aimed at reconciling warring majority Shi'ites and Sunni Arabs.
Petraeus said in a letter to troops on Friday that the government's record on political reforms had been disappointing.
Maliki, referring to attackers including Sunni Islamist al Qaeda, said all nations had a stake in making the region safer.
"Evil wants to strike this or that country, it will not stop at the border of one country. For this, we have to stand together as a wall in the face of this evil," Maliki said.
U.S. forces said on Sunday they had killed a militant linked to al Qaeda who masterminded truck bomb attacks on the minority Yazidi community last month that killed more than 400 people.
The purpose of Sunday's meeting is to review the work of several committees that were set up after a high-level conference in Egypt in May where ministers from the region and Western powers discussed ways to stabilize Iraq.
The committees have been looking at greater cooperation in security, energy and economic matters.
Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari said discussions needed to include measures to tighten Iraq's borders so "terrorists and killers" cannot get into and out of the country.
"The fires lit (in Iraq) could reach other borders, which means those countries could be subject to the same risk," Zebari said, without naming any of Iraq's neighbors.
Washington accuses Iran and Syria of not doing enough to stop the flow of fighters and weapons into Iraq. Both countries, which have officials at the meeting, have denied the charges.
Fresh from his visit to Iraq where he raised the possibility of cutting troop levels, Bush said on Saturday he would address Americans next week to "lay out a vision" for the future U.S. role in Iraq after Petraeus and Crocker deliver their testimony. CNN said Bush would speak on Thursday.
Bush's administration has to give its own report to Congress by next Saturday.
One of the goals of Bush's seven-month-old troop "surge" was to give Iraq's divided leaders breathing space to reach a political compromise. U.S. troop numbers now stand at 168,000.
But differences run deep, with the ruling Shi'ite majority reluctant to cede too much power while Sunni Arabs dominant under Saddam Hussein feel marginalized.
Leaders of Iraq's parliamentary blocs met on Sunday to try to resolve some issues blocking reconciliation, officials said.
Adnan al-Dulaimi, leader of a Sunni Arab political party, said items to be discussed included proposed amendments to the constitution, a key demand of Sunni Arabs and the United States.
Consider this when listening to the idea that the Iraqi government is not working. Once our Constitution was signed, it took another 40 years before it was firmly in place and we only had around 2 million people in the country. The Iraqi Constitution, as fragile as it is, has only been in place, I think, for about 2-3 years and they have about 25 million people.
Those who fight against the Iraqi government, in this country, don’t want you to even consider this fact. It’s not going to happen over night, regardless of the politics.
The left knows that very well, but choose to ignore that because of the hatred they have for the administration
30,000 more??? Ay kazaa!! Wonder where they'll go?
The Rats have to Destroy this man for their Victory in ‘08.
He has done far more than Do Nothing Nancy’s congress
Pray for W and Our Freedom Fighters
It probably means the 30,000 troops that were send for the surge, not an additional
By trying to destroy him they think they can win
Read recently that 30,000 troops might be deployed to the South (Basra) in case militias try to run over the place when the Brits leave.
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.