Almotamar.net, AP - BAGHDAD (AP) — Iraq's government welcomed reports Wednesday of a U.S. combat troop withdrawal next year and said Iraqi forces would be ready to take full responsibility for security.
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki supports an accelerated pullout and Iraqi officials will work closely with American commanders under a possible timetable to remove U.S. soldiers from the battlefield by August 2010, said Sadiq al-Rikabi, one of al-Maliki's top advisers.
The comments come after reports that President Barack Obama was expected to order all U.S. combat troops to leave Iraq by August of next year. An announcement by Obama could come as early as this week, a senior White House official told The Associated Press on Tuesday.
Al-Rikabi said al-Maliki expressed "no worry" about U.S. forces moving out quicker than the standing agreement for a withdrawal by the end of 2011.
"The Iraqi troops are ready to take responsibility. There is nothing to worry about and the withdrawal will be carried out in coordination between the two sides," he said.
Obama's announcement will speed up the timeline of a U.S.-Iraqi security pact, which took effect Jan. 1, calling for American troops to withdraw from Iraq's cities by June 30 and completely pull out troops by the end of 2011.
For months, al-Maliki has publicly said he believes Iraq's security forces are prepared to stand on their own despite lingering questions about their readiness.
But the withdrawal of combat troops under Obama's plan would still have U.S. troops in Iraq well after parliamentary elections this year, which military officials have said is one of the next big security tests. There are more than 140,000 U.S. troops in Iraq.
Reaction among Iraqis was mixed.
"I have no trust with Iraqi security forces that they could keep security because army and security forces were built on a sectarian basis," sad Thabit Mohammed Jassim, a 40-year-old Sunni shop owner in Tikrit, Saddam Hussein's hometown.
Jassim said he believed violence would likely climb after American combat troops leave Iraq.
"Obama wants to withdraw not for Iraqis, but because of economic problems they face internally and of hardships his troops are facing in Iraq," he said.
But Hussein Jassim Mohammed, a 35-year-old Shiite from Baghdad, said he would like to see U.S. troops leave sooner rather than later.
"We hope the withdrawal will take place sooner, before the given timetable," he said, adding that it was "a good step for Iraqis to secure" their own country.
Mohammed said there were some who worried about an increase in violence, but said it was time for "security forces to live up to their responsibility."
But in Mosul, where U.S. and Iraqi forces continue to battle insurgents, Ziyad al-Sinjari, a 35-year-old Sunni, was less optimistic about the stability of the Iraqi security forces.
"The new Iraqi army lacks experts. It needs the expertise of former Iraqi military officers," said al-Sinjari, who works at Mosul University. "I hope the withdrawal will be soon, so militants have no pretext of launching attacks against Americans in cities and hurting (civilians)."
In Najaf, a Shiite shrine city in southern Iraq, Ibrahim Ihsan said he wants to see foreign forces leave Iraq.
"I have no doubts that Iraqi soldiers are qualified to shoulder the security responsibilities in the country," said the 55-year-old retiree.
The Cabinet on Wednesday urged all the concerned political parties to accelerate the formation of a new government.
In its meeting, which was chaired by Acting Prime Minister and Minister of Electricity Abdullah al-Akwa, the cabinet pointed to the importance of the new government formation in stabilizing the political, economic and security situation and overcoming the current problems.
The cabinet's meeting touched on a number of topics, especially the issues related to the service and development aspects.
The cabinet stressed the need to keep the different educational institutions away from any conflicts and the importance of commitment of all parties to maintain the safety of employees and students in these education institutions.
President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi chaired on Monday a meeting of the panel of presidential advisors along with Prime Minister-designate Khalid Bahah.
They reviewed the latest developments in the local arena, besides procedures to form a new government and distribution of the ministerial portfolios in accordance with criteria agreed upon by all components.
Ibb University Council approved Sunday the halt of study in different colleges for a week due to security reasons in the governorate.
The council formed a committee to communicate with the local authority and concerned political forces to withdraw their militants from near the university for it is an educational institution to the governorate's sons.
President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi stressed on Sunday the importance of accelerating the formation of the new government based on the peace and national partnership agreement.
During the meeting, Hadi urged Khalid Bahah, the Prime Minister-designate, to meet with all political powers and components in order to form a new government based on the standards of integrity, competence and experience.
He also emphasized the importance of combining efforts of all political and societal components to face economic and security challenges in the country.
The newly appointed Prime Minister Khaled Bahah has called the International Community to speed up honor their pledges they announced about during Yemen Friends' Meetings held in Riyadh, New York and London.
During a formal ceremony held at the UN Premises on Friday on the occasion of ending duties as Yemen's Permanent Representative to the UN, Bahah talked about providing suitable environment to enhance Yemen's economy to help improving humanitarian and political situation in Yemen, as well as providing protection to weak social categories.
He reviewed a series of political, security, economic, humanitarian and social challenges that will face the expected national partnership government he will form after his arrival to the country.
Yemen has called for gathering regional and international efforts to confront and combat the crime of human trafficking.
At the Regional Conference on combating human trafficking hosted by Sudan's capital Khartoum during October 13-16, Yemen stressed in its speech, which was delivered by the ambassador Abdulelah Hajar, the importance of seeking to eliminate the main causes of the growing phenomenon of asylum and illegal immigration, represented in poverty, illiteracy, unemployment ,oppression ,armed conflicts and natural disasters
The Cabinet discussed in its meeting held Thursday security and economic situations in the country, as well as the performance of the government's institutions.
Presided over by Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Electricity Abdullah al-Akwa', the government studied measures must be adopted by all ministries and government bodies to deal with present challenges and the implementation of Peace and Partnership Agreement signed by political parties
Japan expressed on Wednesday deep concern and strong condemnation of the terrorist attacks taken place in Sana'a and Hadramout last week.
At least 66 people were killed on October 9 in a suicide bombing in the capital Sana'a and a car bomb attack on an army checkpoint in eastern Hadramout governorate.
"Japan expresses its absolute condemnation of these terrorist acts, and offers sincere condolences to the families of the victims and wishes a speedy recovery to the injured," the Japanese Foreign Ministry spokesman said in a statement posted on the Ministry's