In testimony to a congressional committee, former Iraqi Prime Minister
Ayad Allawi says the United States and Iraq are at a critical stage of
deciding on a measured and responsible withdrawal of U.S. troops from
Iraq. VOA's Dan Robinson reports from Capitol Hill.
appeared before a House foreign affairs subcommittee that has held
hearings on the future of U.S. - Iraq relations, the latest on a
possible extension of the U.N. mandate that expires at the end of 2008.
both countries are attempting to construct what he calls a long-term
productive strategic relationship, Allawi said it is appropriate to
discuss a time frame for withdrawing U.S. forces. "As we think about
moving to the next stage of our relationship it is appropriate to
discuss a time frame for reduction of U.S. forces. But at the same
time, such reduction must be linked to measure of progress in Iraq and
the conditions prevailing in the country," he said.
Allawi describes security gains from the U.S military surge as fragile and possibly not sustainable.
bilateral negotiations on status of forces and strategic accords
deadlocked, he says it is unlikely the two sides will conclude
agreements before the end of the year, adding an alternative will have
to be found involving the U.N. mandate:
"Extension of [the] U.N.
Security Council resolution under Chapter 7 is an option but may be
unacceptable in Iraq. A second options is a U.N. Security Council
resolution, but under Chapter 6. This options and its ramifications
need to be studied very carefully because we are concerned about the
protection of Iraqi assets from claims by international creditors," he
Either option, he adds, would provide more time to work
out more permanent agreements in a transparent and cooperative manner,
but says the two sides are running against time.
this response to a question from Democrat Russ Carnahan who asked what
it would take to have Iraq's parliament approve agreements:
What elements do you think need to be included in such an agreement for
it to have enough support to pass in the Iraqi parliament?
I frankly don't see any basic objection by the various constituencies
in the parliament as long as the agreements, the blueprint(s) of the
agreement, is discussed in parliament. And this is unfortunately not
Allawi expressed surprise that U.S.-Iraq draft
agreements have not come to Iraq's parliament, saying "you can't expect
the Iraqi parliament to approve of something they have not seen."
Iraq's military is concerned, Allawi describes training of forces as by
and large a secondary issue. More important, he suggests, are
questions of sectarianism, which he describes as a serious problem,
along with chain of command, and methods of recruitment.
former Iraqi prime minister also expressed concern about the integrity
and transparency of upcoming Iraqi provincial elections, and national
elections in 2009, noting violence and irregularities in 2005.
are some of the conditions [in Iraq], Allawi says, that should be
linked to negotiations on a time frame for drawing down multinational
forces in Iraq.
Democrat William Delahunt told Allawi that
while the U.S. Congress recognizes responsibility to assist Iraqi
refugees living outside the country, lawmakers are nonetheless
disappointed with what Delahunt called the minuscule amount the Iraqi
government has devoted to the refugee issue.