News / Middle East

US, Iraqi Officials Say Iraqi Security Forces Up to Task

A recent wave of violence across Iraq is drawing more attention to the impending decrease in U.S. forces in that country. At least 55 people have been killed in several attacks over a three-day period. Starting September 1, the U.S. military will reduce its troop levels to 50,000, as U.S. forces shift their focus to training and counter-insurgency efforts. While U.S. and Iraqi officials insist Iraq's security forces are sufficient, others say the country's political instability is a key challenge to quelling the insurgency.

Flames and smoke race skyward after one of three explosions in the southern Iraqi city of Basra August 7
Although sectarian violence has dropped dramatically in recent years, bombing and suicide attacks still occur on a regular basis.

Meanwhile, the failure of March elections to produce a coalition government is raising concerns about Iraq's ability to stop the violence.

Despite those concerns, the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, General Ray Odierno, says Iraqi security forces are ready to assume greater responsibility.  "I think we'll see some first steps toward forming a government by One September, but our numbers are not linked to that formation of the government. Our numbers are linked to the capacity that the Iraqis - of the Iraqi security forces being able to sustain stability. And I think they are moving toward that capacity," he said.

At a recent news conference in Iraq, an Iraqi army commander echoed General Odierno's confidence. "Our security forces are well-prepared and will be responsible for keeping security in the country. We are fully prepared to take all the responsibilities from the U.S. forces during this phase," said Lt. Gen. Ali Ghaidan.

General Odierno says the 50,000 U.S. troops that will remain in Iraq represent what he calls a "very significant presence."

But others say the uncertainty of Iraq's future government is a far greater concern. Helle Dale, a Middle East expert at the Heritage Foundation think tank in Washington,  says too much emphasis has been placed on what the September 1 deadline means regarding U.S. troop levels in Iraq.

"One of the the things it was supposed to achieve was to make the Iraqis stand on their own feet. To make the Iraqis form a government. To put pressure on Iraq to get its act together, and that's not happening," she said.

Dale says if Iraq fails to establish a coalition government soon, the burden of implementing a counter-insurgency strategy, and law and order,  may rest with Iraq's military commanders. "They're in charge of the cities, they're in charge of much of the country. But I think the leadership would almost have to come from them - in order to deal with insurgents on the ground," he said.

On August 4, the United Nations Security Council called on Iraq's recently-elected legislature to form a government quickly.

The U.N. top's diplomat in Iraq, Ad Melkert, says delays are contributing to uncertainty,  which could be exploited by those opposed to democracy in Iraq.

You May Like

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

Multimedia 100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Chocolate Too Bitter? Swap Sugar for Mushrooms

US food technology company develops fermentation process using mushrooms to reduce bitterness in cocoa beans, believes it will cut sugar content in candy More

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.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid