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 Saudi-led coalition's warplanes and its mercenaries continued to breach the UN-announced ceasefire in several provinces during the past 24 hours, a military official said Sunday.
The aggression's war jets dropped sound bombs on al-Nahdain and Noqm areas in the Capital and launched two sorties on Nehm district and two on al-Shurfa area in Bani Hushaish district in Sana'a province, the official said.
He added the aggression dropped also four sound bombs on al-Shahel district and petrol bombs on al-Mazraq in Haradh district in Hajjah province.
In Jawf province, three children were wounded by the Saudi air bombing on al-Muaimerah area in al-Moton district, which was targeted by two air raids.
The Saudi-led coalition's warplanes and its mercenaries continued to breach the UN-announced ceasefire in several provinces during the past 24 hours, a military official said Saturday.
The official said that the Saudi war jets kept flying in the skies of the provinces of Sana'a, Jawf, Mareb, Sa'ada, Amran, Hajjah, Hodeidah and Mahweet.
The hostile warplanes waged six raids on al-Majaweha area in Nehm district and two others on Bani Hoshish district in Sana'a province, while Riyadh's mercenaries pounded the areas of Dhaboa'a, Mabda'a, al-Majaweha and al-Houl in Nehm with missiles, the official elaborated.
In Jawf, the war jets of the Saudi aggression launched two raids on the districts of al-Masloub and al-Ghail, while the hirelings pounded al-Maton district with artillery shells.
A military vehicle carrying 23-caliber machine gun belonging to the mercenaries was burned when the army and popular committees forces repelled their failed attempt to advance on Waqaz area in al-Masloub district
At least a citizen was killed and five others were wounded on Friday in an airstrike by the Saudi-led coalition on Moza’ district in Taiz province.
A local official said that the raid targeted a truck loaded with cement on the main road in al-Hardain area of Moza’ district, which led to the killing of a citizen, injuring five others and damaging the truck’s load.
The aggression’s warplanes waged two raids on the coastal city of Mocha, the official added.
A senior United Nations relief official has warned of the worsening humanitarian crisis in Yemen due to the continuing conflict.
“Seeing the plight of the Yemeni people first-hand reinforces the need for national and international humanitarian actors to scale up their response to protect and support the population,” John Ging, Director of Operations in the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), said in a statement issued on Tuesday.
More than 13 million people in need of immediate life-saving assistance in Yemen, Ging stated following his three-day visit to the country with Emergency Director of the World Health Organization (WHO), Rick Brennan, and Deputy Emergency Director of the World Food Programme (WFP), Gian Carlo Cirri.
He pointed out that the healthy food and access to health care are among the more requirements of the population.
Since mid-March 2015, the conflict has prompted a widening protection crisis, exacerbating an already dire humanitarian situation brought on by years of poverty, poor governance and instability. Over 7.6 million people are severely food insecure, and 2.5 million people have been displaced by violent conflict since January 2014.
The national delegation consisting of representatives of the General People’s Congress headed by Mr. Aref Awad Azwkaand and Ansarullah headed by Mr. Mohammed Abdulsalam held on Thursday, two sessions with the UN envoy to Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed,.
The two sessions discussed a roadmap for a transitional period and the need to completely stop hostilities.
The national delegation stressed the need for supporting the ceasefire the existing stage is governed by consensus and partnership, and that the key solution is consensus on a transitional authority.