London, Asharq Al-Awsat- Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki asserted that 2008 would see the government’s action to provide services to Iraqi citizens and to build on the security achievements that have restored relative security to Baghdad and several areas of Iraq.
Al-Maliki said, “2007 was the year of security and praise be to God, we succeeded in it to a large degree and are still determined to hunt down all the outlaws.” He added that “The stability of security puts us before a second commitment and obligation, namely, the development of the services of which the Iraqi people have been deprived of many years.”
In reply to a question from Asharq Al-Awsat following his meeting with his British counterpart Gordon Brown about the possibility of his government asking for the British forces to remain in Iraq when the mandate given to the multinational forces expires at the end of this year, Al-Maliki said, “We believe in the development of our forces and their competence and in increasing their armament. They are improving further every day.” He added that, “This is our responsibility and our forces are the ones who should shoulder it. The multinational forces have gratefully contributed enough and this remains our task and not that of others.” He stressed that the multinational forces’ gradual withdrawal from Iraq “will not have a negative impact. Our security organs have now proved that they are capable of controlling security and confronting Al-Qaeda and the outlaws alone.”
Regarding the British role in Iraq after the handover of security responsibility in Basra to the Iraqis last month, Al-Maliki said, “It was the role of helping impose security and also helped bring down the dictatorship and in the development process. We welcome this British approach.” He expressed his agreement with the view of Brown who moved his country’s strategy in Iraq from the military role to the civilian one and especially in the investment field and saying, “Iraq wants to manage the services more widely and needs this (British) expertise which speeds up investments and reconstruction. The British prime minister pledged to back the investments, reconstruction, and services.”
The Iraqi prime minister underlined his country’s commitment” to developing and building the country and launching the investment process because Iraq has the capabilities to manage the investments and reconstruction”, adding that “the relevant committees formed the central economic authority which launched its action and welcomed all the companies that want to invest.”
Al-Maliki was in London for medical tests which were completed and were followed by a courtesy visit to Brown before returning to Iraq. His visit to the British capital last Saturday, which was not announced beforehand, raised question marks about his health but he stressed yesterday that the tests’ results “were very good and assuring, praise be to God. There is nothing to cause worry and the excessive interest.”