September 21, 2007

JUSTIFIABLE FEARS:

'The Surge Was Absolutely Necessary': An Interview with Iraqi National Security Adviser Mowaffak al-Rubaie (Urs Gehriger | 21 Sep 2007, World Politics Review)

Next week will be a crucial moment for Iraq. General Petraeus will be providing the Congress in Washington an assessment of the effects of the "surge." What will his report look like?

The general trend will be positive. In military terms, the progress is palpable. Thanks to the additional 30,000 troops, the security situation of the population has improved in the last few months in many parts of the country. There is also positive news concerning the economy. A lot of money that we have taken in as revenue has not yet been spent. Purchasing power has increased. But we are still facing major challenges.

Your government is the target of harsh criticisms. The De-Baathification Law has yet to be modified and the plan for the distribution of oil revenues is constantly being put off. What is holding things up?

I think it has to do with fear. Every part of Iraqi society has justifiable fears about the uncertainty that any possible change represents for it. People have built up psychological barriers.

But you also bear responsibility. Iraqi security forces are evidently not fulfilling the demands made by the U.S.A.

Let's look back at how things were three years ago. In June 2004, we had no army, no police force, no border controls. Now we have ten divisions, 250,000 soldiers, and the same number of police. This has happened quickly. It is to be expected that the process has not been without problems. We recruit, train, and arm our troops, while terrorists are attacking us and neighboring countries are plotting against us. It is as if one had to tie one's shoes while constantly being shot at. One of the most important problems is the infiltration of our security forces by terrorists and religious militias. An additional problem is the composition of the troops. Some divisions are exclusively Kurdish, others exclusively Shia. We have to find a balance between the different groups also in the military.

When will you have gotten there? When will the Iraqi troops be capable of controlling the country themselves, so that the U.S. troops can begin the withdrawal?

Thanks to the "surge," we have made important progress. The number of terrorist attacks fell significantly, the number of terrorists captured or killed increased, we have discovered more weapons caches than ever before. We are doing this hand in hand with American troops. We cannot yet do it alone. We will still need their help for some time.


Posted by Orrin Judd at September 21, 2007 11:34 AM
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