Since 2005, President Bush has argued that the U.S. strategy in Iraq is: “As the Iraqis stand up, we will stand down.” This morning on ABC’s This Week, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani promised that Iraqi troops will be able to defend their country by the “end of the next year.” Watch it:
The newly elected president of Iraq said Sunday he expects that U.S. troops will be gone from his country within two years. Jalal Talabani told CNN two years should be enough time for Iraqi forces to rebuild and secure control of the country as well as take over the job currently being performed by some 140,000 U.S. troops.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki also promised in Nov. 2006 that his “country’s forces would be able to assume security command by June 2007 — which could allow the United States to start withdrawing its troops.”
The United States should not remain mired in Iraq until all Iraqi security forces are trained. Military leaders originally “planned to train 325,000 Iraqi security forces.” But this effort has been hampered by militia members infiltrating the forces and “using their power to carry out sectarian attacks.” The Washington Post’s David Ignatius recently reported that nevertheless, the White House’s post-surge strategy will likely “focus on training and advising Iraqi troops rather than the broader goal of achieving a political reconciliation in Iraq.”
TALABANI: I agree to put constructive pressure on Iraqi government, but I think we must be realistic. Unless we will be able to prepare our forces, armed forces, including army and police forces, to replace coalition forces, something as unpractical and…
STEPHANOPOULOS: But how long is that going to take? The training’s been going on for so long.
TALABANI: Well, you know, to building an army after the collapse of the regime is not so easy.
STEPHANOPOULOS: When will the Iraqi army be ready to defend Iraq?
TALABANI: I think in the end of the next year.
STEPHANOPOULOS: End of 2008.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So U.S. forces will have to stay at high levels at least until then.
TALABANI: I cannot say. I’m not the president of the United States to decide how American forces — when they must leave. But I think, as you asked of me, the end of 2000 sic, we will be able to have an army.