Gates Visits Troops, Meets Officials in Iraq

BAGHDAD, April 6, 2011 — Defense Sec­re­tary Robert M. Gates arrived here this evening to vis­it U.S. troops and to meet with Iraqi offi­cials.
The sec­re­tary trav­eled here from Sau­di Ara­bia, where he met with King Abdul­lah ear­li­er today.

Gates is sched­uled to meet with Iraqi Prime Min­is­ter Nouri al-Mali­ki and Pres­i­dent Jalal Tal­a­bani, and also with Masoud Barzani, pres­i­dent of the Kur­dish region­al gov­ern­ment in north­ern Iraq. 

A senior Defense Depart­ment offi­cial told reporters trav­el­ing with the sec­re­tary that in his meet­ings with Iraqi offi­cials, Gates plans to dis­cuss the impor­tance of com­plet­ing the for­ma­tion of Iraq’s gov­ern­ment, espe­cial­ly the secu­ri­ty-relat­ed min­istries, as the Unit­ed States draws down its forces. He’ll also dis­cuss the need for progress in imple­ment­ing the rec­on­cil­i­a­tion agree­ments that were part of the ini­tial gov­ern­ment for­ma­tion process in the fall, the offi­cial said. 

Gates also will reaf­firm the U.S. com­mit­ment to a long-term part­ner­ship with Iraq, the offi­cial added, and will empha­size the mutu­al ben­e­fits of a rela­tion­ship that con­tin­ues beyond the sched­uled depar­ture of U.S. forces by the year’s end. 

The offi­cial said the post-2011 rela­tion­ship prob­a­bly will be dri­ven by three fac­tors: the state of the Iraqi secu­ri­ty forces, sta­bil­i­ty chal­lenges Iraq will face, and the U.S. abil­i­ty to engage with Iraq across a whole range of activities. 

Iraq’s secu­ri­ty forces are doing a good job with inter­nal secu­ri­ty, the offi­cial said. 

“Keep in mind we’ve drawn down over 100,000 forces and hand­ed over secu­ri­ty respon­si­bil­i­ty for the entire coun­try to the Iraqi secu­ri­ty forces over the last two years,” he said, “and secu­ri­ty inci­dents wig­gle around, but they’re basi­cal­ly flat at the low­est lev­els that they’ve been for the entire war.” 

The big­ger chal­lenge fac­ing the Iraqi secu­ri­ty forces, he added, is exter­nal defense –- such as pro­tect­ing Iraqi air­space –- because Iraq’s forces haven’t been trained and equipped for such a large con­ven­tion­al capability. 

“That will be some­thing that they’ll have to con­tin­ue to work on mov­ing for­ward,” he said. 

Extrem­ist groups will con­tin­ue to pose a chal­lenge in Iraq beyond 2011, the offi­cial said. 

“I don’t think we see it as a strate­gic threat to the over­all sta­bil­i­ty or via­bil­i­ty of the Iraqi state,” he added, “but you will see orga­ni­za­tions like al-Qai­da in Iraq and some of the oth­er extrem­ist groups that are capa­ble of peri­od­ic spec­tac­u­lar attacks, just as they are today.” 

The abil­i­ty of the Unit­ed States to engage with Iraq across a spec­trum of diplo­mat­ic, cul­tur­al, eco­nom­ic, edu­ca­tion­al, sci­en­tif­ic and secu­ri­ty activ­i­ties beyond 2011 rests upon ade­quate fund­ing for the State Depart­ment, the offi­cial said, not­ing that Gates has stressed this point in con­gres­sion­al testimony. 

“The State Depart­ment has asked for mon­ey to con­tin­ue the police train­ing mis­sion,” the offi­cial said. “We think that’s incred­i­bly impor­tant, so that the police can get up to a capa­bil­i­ty so that they take over the inter­nal secu­ri­ty mis­sion and the Iraqi army gets out of that job over time. 

“The State Depart­ment has asked for mon­ey so that they can have a robust pres­ence through­out Iraq, not just in Bagh­dad,” the offi­cial con­tin­ued. “Then we could have con­sulates in the north and the south, and some tem­po­rary diplo­mat­ic facil­i­ties along the Arab-Kurd fault line. It’s impor­tant that the State Depart­ment gets the mon­ey for that.” 

The offi­cial also stressed the need for Con­gress to fund con­tin­ued sup­port for Iraq’s secu­ri­ty forces and to pro­vide the fund­ing and author­i­ties need­ed to stand up an office of secu­ri­ty coop­er­a­tion in the U.S. Embassy in Bagh­dad to con­tin­ue secu­ri­ty assis­tance and coop­er­a­tion after 2011. 

“That’s a bas­ket of things that fall under the State Depart­ment and their [fis­cal 2011 and 2012 bud­get requests] that the sec­re­tary feels very strong­ly needs to be resourced,” the offi­cial said. 

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs) 

Face­book and/or on Twit­ter

Team GlobDef

Seit 2001 ist im Internet unterwegs, um mit eigenen Analysen, interessanten Kooperationen und umfassenden Informationen für einen spannenden Überblick der Weltlage zu sorgen. war dabei die erste deutschsprachige Internetseite, die mit dem Schwerpunkt Sicherheitspolitik außerhalb von Hochschulen oder Instituten aufgetreten ist.

Alle Beiträge ansehen von Team GlobDef →