News

Gates Cites Arab-Kurd Progress in Iraq

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates says Iraqi Arab and Kurdish leaders have made progress in recent weeks toward resolving their differences over power sharing and the status of the city of Kirkuk. Gates met Friday with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in Baghdad and with Kurdish President Masoud Barzani at his regional capital, Irbil.

Secretary Gates speaks to US troops at Forward Operating Base Warrior, 11 Dec 2009
Secretary Gates speaks to US troops at Forward Operating Base Warrior, 11 Dec 2009

Multimedia

Audio

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates says Iraqi Arab and Kurdish leaders have made progress in recent weeks toward resolving their differences over power sharing and the status of the city of Kirkuk. Gates met Friday with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in Baghdad and with Kurdish President Masoud Barzani at his regional capital, Irbil. 

In-between the meetings in Baghdad and Irbil, Secretary Gates stopped at a U.S. airbase near the disputed city of Kirkuk, where he told several hundred American troops he sees signs of progress toward resolving Iraq's Arab-Kurd dispute.  "I actually think they've made some real headway in recent weeks," he said.

Answering a question from one of the American soldiers, Gates called Iraq's Arab-Kurd issue "perhaps the most worrisome" in the country.  But he said he believes it can be resolved without violence. "There is no question that the Kurds see their future as part of a unified Iraq.  And what's at issue is the terms on which that goes forward.  That's negotiable.  And we'll do what we can.  But at this point, all the evidence that we see indicates that they will work out these differences.  And to the degree we can help, we will do that," he said.

U.S. officials who attended the meetings say Secretary Gates urged Prime Minister Maliki and regional President Barzani to ensure the new parliament forms a government in a "timely and inclusive" manner after the March 7 election.  Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell says Gates urged both leaders to avoid a repetition of the "painful memory" of the five-month government formation process in 2005.  U.S. officials are concerned such a prolonged political process will create an opening for al-Qaida to try to foment ethnic strife, just as tens of thousands of U.S. troops are scheduled to be leaving Iraq.

Morrell quoted Gates as telling President Barzani the United States has a long-term commitment to Kurdish "security, prosperity and autonomy within a united Iraq."  And he urged the Kurdish leader to continue to pursue improved relations with Baghdad.

On Thursday, the number two U.S. commander in Iraq, Lieutenant General Charles Jacoby, said the improved cooperation between Prime Minister Maliki and President Barzani has led to reduced tension between the Iraqi Army and the Kurdish Peshmerga force. "The act of interest and trust of those two leaders has led to greater cooperation within the disputed internal boundaries amongst all parties.  And we have not had the kinds of friction that's been seen in the past.  In fact, it's been a very solid relationship," he said.

General Jacoby says the Iraqi and Kurdish forces have begun to put aside political differences and, with American help, start to build what he called "a security architecture."

U.S. officials say they are in a better position to mediate and press for the resolution of difficult issues while the United States has a sizable military force in Iraq.

That force is scheduled to be reduced from nearly 120,000 now to 50,000 by next October, and to zero by the end of 2011, although Secretary Gates said Friday there could be a follow-on agreement for some U.S. troops to stay, particularly elements of the Air Force.  Gates said he expects the Iraqi Arab and Kurdish leaders to settle their disagreements in what he called a "timely fashion," that will not affect the U.S. withdrawal timeline.

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.
Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Interneti
X
Mike O'Sullivan
June 30, 2015 8:20 PM
Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.

VOA Blogs