Iraqis Reject Insurgents, Support Transition

WASHINGTON, Feb. 3, 2011 — Iraq’s cit­i­zens want a U.S. civil­ian pres­ence in their coun­try and over­whelm­ing­ly reject the insur­gency, the top U.S. mil­i­tary and civil­ian lead­ers in Iraq said here today.
“The peo­ple do not want what al-Qai­da brings to their coun­try,” Army Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III, com­man­der of U.S. Forces Iraq, told the Sen­ate Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee. “I don’t see them return­ing to the promi­nence they had a while back. The [Iraqi] peo­ple have seen bet­ter days.”

Polls show Iraqis are sup­port­ive of plans laid out in the U.S.-Iraqi strate­gic frame­work agree­ment call­ing for all U.S. mil­i­tary to leave Iraq by the end of this year, turn­ing future oper­a­tions over to the U.S. State Depart­ment, U.S. Ambas­sador to Iraq James F. Jef­frey said.

“In all these [Mid­dle East­ern] coun­tries, there is a ner­vous­ness about hav­ing too close a rela­tion­ship with any for­eign coun­try,” he said. “They have a long his­to­ry of being exploit­ed by their neigh­bors, and col­o­niza­tion. But, we would say there is a gen­er­al, pos­i­tive feel­ing in Iraq toward the Unit­ed States.”

Those pos­i­tive atti­tudes from Iraqis will help the 17,000 or so civil­ians who stay in Iraq after the mil­i­tary leaves, Austin and Jef­frey said.

It was the sec­ond time this week that the two tes­ti­fied before Sen­ate com­mit­tees about the tran­si­tion from mil­i­tary to civil­ian-led oper­a­tions in Iraq.

Austin and Jef­frey said they are con­fi­dent the State Depart­ment can com­plete the mis­sion if Con­gress ful­ly funds their bud­get requests.

“We are ded­i­cat­ed to part­ner­ing with our embassy team­mates,” Austin said. “The key is to ful­ly resource the embassy.”

Jef­frey said fail­ure to fund the effort prop­er­ly would be a mis­take. “Giv­en all the U.S. has sac­ri­ficed in Iraq,” he said, “now is not the time to be pen­ny-wise and pound-fool­ish and risk ced­ing the field to al-Qai­da and Iran.”

The U.S. bud­get in Iraq will decrease from $78 bil­lion for Defense Depart­ment oper­a­tions there last year to a State Depart­ment request of about $6 bil­lion for next year, Jef­frey said. That would make Iraq the State Department’s largest pro­gram expen­di­ture and would dou­ble its costs there now, he said.

Jef­frey added that Iraq increas­ing­ly is pay­ing more for its own gov­er­nance, secu­ri­ty and pro­grams, and cur­rent­ly pays for half of civil­ian con­struc­tion projects.

As part of its role to advise and assist, Austin said, the mil­i­tary is work­ing to turn over its train­ing of Iraq’s 650,000 secu­ri­ty forces to embassy per­son­nel in Bagh­dad as part of a new office of secu­ri­ty coop­er­a­tion. The office is slat­ed to have 157 per­son­nel to advise, assist and devel­op Iraqi forces and over­see $13 bil­lion in U.S. mil­i­tary equip­ment sales to Iraq, he said.

State Depart­ment work­ers now have mil­i­tary escorts every­where out­side of Bagh­dad, but that has not always been the case, Jef­frey said.

“We have oper­at­ed with our own con­tract secu­ri­ty in Iraq under far worse con­di­tions than we’re under now,” he said. “We con­tin­ue to oper­ate in Bagh­dad with our secu­ri­ty per­son­nel, and we’re pre­pared to do this through­out the coun­try.” He added that he expects the civil­ians to have more than 5,500 secu­ri­ty per­son­nel, dou­bling their cur­rent num­bers.

Iraqi secu­ri­ty forces have had the lead in pro­vid­ing the country’s inter­nal secu­ri­ty since last year and are pre­pared to con­tin­ue after U.S forces leave, Austin said. U.S. forces will con­tin­ue to train and equip Iraqi forces to bet­ter pre­pare them for exter­nal threats, which will remain a chal­lenge through 2012, he said.

Iraq’s con­tin­ued devel­op­ment of its new nation­al gov­ern­ment will be crit­i­cal to sus­tain­ing progress, Jef­frey said. “We’ve pressed them, but more impor­tant­ly, they’ve pressed them­selves,” he told the com­mit­tee.

The nation­al gov­ern­ment recent­ly signed a 19-point plan with lead­ers of the Kur­dish region of north­ern Iraq on issues such as rev­enue shar­ing and oil exports, Jef­frey said. And Iraqi lead­ers, cog­nizant of poten­tial threats from neigh­bor­ing Iran and are “nation­al­ist in their ori­en­ta­tion” to deal­ing with them, he added.

“The Iraqi gov­ern­ment is well aware of the poten­tial for trou­ble,” he said.

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

More news and arti­cles can be found on Face­book and Twit­ter.

Fol­low GlobalDefence.net on Face­book and/or on Twit­ter

Team GlobDef

Team GlobDef

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

Alle Beiträge ansehen von Team GlobDef →