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Iraqi Official: 'Spoon-Feeding' by Foreigners Weakens Iraq

A top Iraqi government official says political spoon-feeding by what he calls some influential foreign figures will weaken Iraq's government and fuel a culture of dependency.

Writing in Tuesday's Washington Post, Iraq's national security adviser Mowaffak al-Rubaie said Iraq needs to grow out of the shadow of the United States and take responsibility for its own decisions.

Rubaie said Iraq hopes to assume total political and military control by the end of 2008. He said he expects the number of U.S. troops in Iraq to fall below 100,000 by the end of this year, with most U.S. troops gone within a year and a half.

He said the removal of foreign troops will strengthen Iraq's government in the eyes of its people, who he said see coalition troops as occupiers, not liberators.

Rubaie said four out of Iraq's 18 provinces are ready for self-government. He said nine others are almost ready.

Rubaie said provinces will be judged ready to govern themselves when insurgent threats are down and Iraqi security can deal effectively with violence.

The article comes a week after President Bush made a surprise visit to Iraq.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.