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.
A clarification message from the Pakistani embassy in Sana’a denies the rumors of Pakistan involvement on the air strikes against Yemen.
The source was surprised of including the name of Pakistan to the list of countries who participated in last night air strikes on Sana’a and other Yemeni cities.
Ambassador to Yemen Dr. Irfan Shami said, Several international media reports are erroneously reporting that Pakistani aircraft were involved in the air strikes launched by the GCC coalition against Yemen in the early morning of Thursday, 26 March 2015.
The Secretary-General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Iyad Madani called on all Yemeni parties to act wisely and put the interests of Yemen above all political, tribal and sectarian accounts.
In a statement aired by Saudi Press Agency (SPA), Madani described the developments that are currently taking place in Yemen as "serious".
Madani urged all parties to avoid the military option and to response to the international and regional efforts that call for a comprehensive national dialogue to find a peaceful way out of the deepening crisis in Yemen
Yemen stands on the brink of civil war amid deepening political tensions and an uptick in sectarian violence, United Nations Special Adviser Jamal Benomar warned [Yesterday] as he explained that only through dialogue could the country achieve a peaceful political transition.
Briefing the Security Council via video conference in a rare Sunday session, Mr. Benomar told the UN body that Yemen was on a “rapid downward spiral” as the conflict took on “worrying sectarian tones and deepening north-south divisions.”
“Emotions are running extremely high and, unless solutions can be found, the country will fall into further violent confrontations,” Mr. Benomar declared. “Events in Yemen are leading the country away from political settlement and to the edge of civil war.”
The situation in Yemen has been rapidly deteriorating since the country formed a new Government in November 2014 aimed at ending a period of political turbulence and bringing about a full transition towards democracy. Nonetheless, the country has continued to be plagued by violence and mass political demonstrations despite UN efforts to bring about a peaceful political resolution
Yemen's unity and stability are under huge threats, which casts serious consequences for the Arab region and the international peace and security, Egypt's Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said on Monday.
"Yemen is facing multiple challenges, which makes it imperative to help Yemen and drag it away from the edge of the abyss ", Shoukry said in his speech during the Arab League Council meeting at the ministerial level held in Cairo.
He reiterated Egypt's support for the institutions of the state in Yemen to carry out their national responsibilities in maintaining the unity of Yemeni territory.
The United Nations announced on Sunday the launch of the humanitarian response plan for Yemen for 2015 with an amount of US $747.5 million to deliver humanitarian aid to 8.2 million people.
Humanitarian Coordinator in Yemen Johannes Van Der Klaauw said that the latest developments in Yemen confirm the importance of continuing humanitarian aid and expanding its domain to reach millions of vulnerable Yemeni people.
"Despite the political unrest in Yemen, the humanitarian community will continue to work in Yemen at its full capacity and within strong partnerships with local communities and local partners," Klaauw added.
He said that the humanitarian agencies are adhered to continue to deliver emergency humanitarian assistance and to provide protection services for people within the vulnerable groups.
He called on all donors and concerned parties to support such efforts and provide humanitarian response plan for Yemen during the current year.
The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) renewed on Wednesday its call for all political parties in Yemen to implement the Council's relevant resolutions, especially the resolution 2201.
The council urged Yemeni political parties to reach a political agreement based on the Gulf initiative and the Peace and National Partnership Agreement (PNPA), confirming its respect to the unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Yemen.
Chaired by Francois Delattre, the ambassador and Permanent Mission of France to the United Nations in New York, the UNSC confirmed its support for the efforts made by the UN Special adviser on Yemen Jamal Benomar.
In closed consultations which lasted for more than two hours, Delattre said, "We have heard Benomar's briefing over the latest developments in Yemen, reviewing our concerns the lack of political solutions as well as growing of terrorist threats due to the ongoing security vacuum."