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 government of Yemen and donors held the fourth follow-up meeting today in Sana’a to discuss the progress made in the Mutual Accountability Framework (MAF) and the level of aid absorption in the last quarter of this year.
The meeting was chaired by the Yemeni Prime Minister, the Chairman of Executive Bureau to Accelerate Aid Absorption and Support for Policy Reforms Board (EB), Eng. Khalid Bahah, from the government and the World Bank, G4 and GCC Mission representing donors. The meeting was attended by the Ministers of Planning, Finance, Transport, Public Works, Trade number of deputies and government institutions chairmen.
The meeting, which was attended by GCC ambassadors and donors representatives as well as private sector, parliament and CSO representatives, has discussed the policy reforms implementation and absorption of donors’ aid included in the EB’s annual report. The meeting also debated the next steps and mutual commitments of both the government and donors.
Mrs. Amatalim Alsoswa, the EB’s Managing Director, welcomed the attendees and highlighted the significance of the meeting which was held after the formation of the technocratic government led by PM Eng. Khaled Bahah. She also said that the meeting was held after one year passed since the launching of the EB under which worked under exceptional security, political, economic and stability challenges.
“The Yemeni government and donors community should agree on a work plan and a mechanism to increase the level of allocation, approval and disbursement of the remaining funds as well as the development of a National Plan for the Foreign Aid as it represents a primary indicator and regulator of the GoY-donors relationship from one side, and the government.” Mrs. Alsoswa said.
From his side, the Prime Minister stressed that the cabinet targeted a number of priorities in its program. The primary priorities were security, stability, spreading State’s control and push the economic development wheel forward. “The government is working to make the best use of the donors’ pledges and reach high absorption rates for these resources
The UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has strongly condemned the Tuesday bomb attacks in Radaa city in Bayda province, which killed more than 25 people, including at least 15 schoolgirls.
"There is absolutely no justification for such cowardly terrorist acts that brutally take the lives of innocent civilians, including children", said a statement read by Spokesman for UN Secretary-General.
The statement called for the perpetrators to be brought to justice.
In the statement , the UN Secretary-General expressed his sympathies and sincere condolences to the families of the victims of these heinous attacks.
The UN Secretary General Advisor on Yemen Affairs Jamal Binomar condemned on Friday the two terrorist attacks which took place on Tuesday in Rada city, Al-Baidha governorate, claiming the lives of 26 people, mostly children.
In a statement issued on Friday, Binomar said that: “As we offer our condolences to the families of the victims, we condemn these two terror attacks.”
An informed source in the local authority in Hodeidah governorate has said that terror elements attacked one of the “Ansar Allah” popular committees location in Kornish street using a booby-trapped car.
members of the popular committees confronted the attack killing two suicide bombers before they blew themselves up while the two others managed to blow themselves up.
The Parliament approved in its meeting on Thursday the Government's general program and voted unanimously to give confidence to the government.
After completing the discussion of the government program, the parliament listened to a report by the parliamentary committee on the main observations made during the debates and directed a number of recommendations to the government
The Republic of Yemen has strongly denounced the Israeli aggression which led to the killing of the Palestinian Minister and Head of Popular Committee Against the Settlement and Apartheid Ziad Abu Ain.
"While the Republic of Yemen denounces this brutal assault, it shoulders Israel the responsibility of this atrocious act that contradicts humanitarian values," said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a release issued on Wednesday.
The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) has held in Amman, Jordan, a four-day workshop on the implementation of Yemen's project portfolio.
The workshop, which started on Monday, also intends to review the general conditions and adopted procedures for all IFAD projects and financing agreements.
Representatives of at least 30 relevant bodies take part in the workshop, including Economic Opportunities Fund (EOF), and Ministries of Planning and International Cooperation, Finance, Agriculture and Fisheries.
At the opening session of the workshop, Yemen's project portfolio Director Mohammed Abdul-Qader talked about the importance of applying the IFAD-adopted procedures and regulations of the financing agreement and the general conditions to implement projects, stressing that IFAD's all projects aim to eradicate poverty in rural areas.