Iraqi Security Adviser Sees Positive Outlook for Iraq
By Rudi Williams
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jul. 31, 2005 Iraqi National Security Adviser Mowaffak al-Rubaie cautiously predicted today that a large number of U.S. and multinational forces will be able to leave some of Iraq's provinces, regions and large cities by the year's end during an appearance on CNN's "Late Edition" talk show with Wolf Blitzer.
But Rubaie emphasized that a reduction of foreign troops in Iraq depends on security conditions at the time.
Blitzer pointed out that the top U.S. military commander, Army Gen. George Casey, said U.S. forces could begin a substantial troop pullout as early as next spring if positive progress continues on both the political and security fronts.
Rubaie called that assessment "very realistic."
"The prime minister has proposed that the multinational forces will pull out from some of the provinces, some of the cities where the security is okay and the Iraqi police and the Iraqi army maintain the security in these regions," he said. "We believe that the multinational forces are ready to leave some of these cities, some of the provinces and we take over the responsibility of the security of these provinces, regions and large cities."
But guessing a figure, he said, would play into the hands of the terrorists. "There are so many factors playing in this process, including the training of our Iraqi security forces and the level of insurgency, violence and terrorism," he said. "There are so many variables in this process that I don't think that we should guess at numbers."
"Until and unless the right conditions are created in some of these areas, the multinational forces will not leave," he emphasized. "And the Iraqi government will not ask them to leave. We're working very hard to create these conditions in some of these regions. When these conditions are right, then we will ask the multinational forces to leave these areas."
Rubaie said Iraqi security forces continue to show progress. "By December we will have 200,000-plus Iraqi army, police and special forces," he said. "We hope by the end of the year, that more than a third of Iraqi security forces are going to be able to operate independently. But if they need help, they will get the help."
A report by the inspectors general of the Pentagon and State Department released last week recommended improvements in recruitment and vetting procedures for Iraqi police forces. Rubaie said new procedures are already improving these processes and reducing the likelihood that insurgents can infiltrate the security forces.
Iraq's national security advisor reminded Blitzer that despite any shortcomings identified, the Iraqi security forces have come a long way in the past year. "Remember, this is a country which we started a year ago with no single policeman, no single Iraqi army," he said. "And now, we are about to have 170,000 Iraqi security forces. So you're bound to have some mistakes and we're addressing these mistakes."
Turning to the trial of Saddam Hussein, Rubaie said he hopes it will take place before "we ask our people to say 'yes' to our constitution." That way, he said, people will be able to day, 'This is your future, and Saddam Hussein is gone into the past and into the wind."