News

    Lawmakers Question US Official on Training of Iraqi Forces

    A U.S. official has faced tough questions from members of Congress about progress in training Iraqi military and police. State Department Iraq Policy Coordinator Richard Jones appeared Wednesday before the Middle East Subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives which examined the situation in Iraq.

    The hearing took on more significance in the wake of President Bush's speech on Iraq on Tuesday.

    The president said the United States will remain in Iraq only as long as it takes to put it firmly on the road to democracy, and enable Iraqis to defend themselves against terrorists and insurgents, but also rejected any timetable for a U.S. pullout.

    Republican Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who chairs the subcommittee, began by noting the progress achieved already in Iraq, including the election earlier this year and steps under way to draft a constitution.

    "Challenges remain, but democracy has taken root.  Today the Iraqi people remain engaged in a process that we all hope will result in a unified and democratic Iraq," Ms. Ros-Lehtinen says.

    But while many lawmakers agree Iraqis have taken important steps toward democracy, some believe the entire process is more vulnerable to failure because of problems in recruiting and training members of Iraq's new army and police force.

    Gary Ackerman is the ranking Democrat on the subcommittee.

    "The insurgency I see is anything but in its last throes," he says. "The level of attacks has been sustained over time, and they are getting deadlier and they are getting more sophisticated.  I can only conclude that we are not succeeding against the insurgency, and that our plan for training Iraqi forces and turning the fight over to them is not working."

    Democratic and Republican lawmakers have complained that they are not getting a clear picture of how many Iraqi military and police have been trained, and more importantly how capable they are in day-to-day operations.

    Pressed on this question, State Department Iraq coordinator Richard Jones gives a figure of over 100 Iraqi battalions, but acknowledges that far fewer than that are actually "functional."

    However, he defended the U.S. strategy.

    "We have a plan for organizing them into battalions, for training them at ever-increasing levels, for forming those battalions into brigades, and brigades into divisions," Mr. Jones says. "And then the responsibility for securing the country will be distributed among eight or 10 Iraqi divisions and we will begin working with them to transfer responsibilities.  There is a schedule, there is a plan."

    Congressman Dennis Cardoza, a California Democrat, wasn't satisfied with that answer, saying he does not see a clear plan and complained about confusing information from the Bush administration.

    "We continue to get conflicting information from the administration, some of which we can't even talk about because it is given to us in classified materials," Mr. Cardoza says. "But I will tell you that the information that we receive often times doesn't [agree] from one administrative agency to another.

    In Wednesday's hearing, State Department official Richard Jones also discussed the coming trials of Saddam Hussein and other former officials of his regime.

    He says the trials, for which preparations have been detailed and intense, should be a matter of pride for the Iraqi people, and that confirmation of the brutality of the Saddam Hussein regime could help to blunt the insurgency in Iraq.

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growthi
    X
    February 10, 2016 5:54 AM
    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Civil Rights Pioneer Remembers Struggle for Voting Rights

    February is Black History Month in the United States. The annual, month-long national observance pays tribute to important people and events that shaped the history of African Americans. VOA's Chris Simkins reports how one man fought against discrimination to help millions of blacks obtain the right to vote
    Video

    Video Jordanian Theater Group Stages Anti-Terrorism Message

    The lure of the self-styled “Islamic State” has many parents worried about their children who may be susceptible to the organization’s online propaganda. Dozens of Muslim communities in the Middle East are fighting back -- giving young adults alternatives to violence. One group in Jordan is using dramatic expression a send a family message. Mideast Broadcasting Network correspondent Haider Al Abdali shared this report with VOA. It’s narrated by Bronwyn Benito
    Video

    Video Migrant Crisis Fuels Debate Over Britain’s Future in EU

    The migrant crisis in Europe is fueling the debate in Britain ahead of a referendum on staying in the European Union that may be held this year. Prime Minister David Cameron warns that leaving the EU could lead to thousands more migrants arriving in the country. Meanwhile, tension is rising in Calais, France, where thousands of migrants are living in squalid camps. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Families Flee Aleppo for Kurdish Regions in Syria

    Not all who flee the fighting in Aleppo are trying to cross the border into Turkey. A VOA reporter caught up with several families heading for Kurdish-held areas of northern Syria.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.