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Iraq’s National Security Advisor: “We Want Less Presence of Foreign Forces Inside Cities” | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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London, Asharq Al-Awsat- Muwaffaq Al-Rubaie Iraq’s national security adviser, has stated that the appointment of Robert Gates as the American secretary of defense will present a “new vision” for the solution in Iraq in view of the new secretary’s experience in the Middle East and in intelligence.

He added in an interview with “Asharq al-Awsat” that the Iraqi Government has reservations about the strategy adopted by the coalition forces in Iraq and in particular the need for reducing the foreign forces’ manifest presence inside the cities and accelerating the process of equipping the Iraqi forces.

He said that the government has adopted a plan to liquidate or arrest the death squads’ leaders on the basis of intelligence information, adding that the government has succeeded in purging the political body in Al-Mahdi Army of the alien elements in it and which turned to acts of murder.

the Iraqi national security advisor pointed out that the recent change in the US administration following the Democrats’ victory in the parliamentary elections “is an internal American affair. But we are looking forward toward working with new Defense Secretary Robert Gates because of his experience in the Middle East affairs in general and Iraq in particular, especially as the current war on terror in Iraq is of an intelligence nature. Since Gates has intelligence experience, he will provide a new spirit” to the situation in Iraq.

He talked about “radical changes” which the Iraqi Government believes are necessary in the Baghdad security plan and Iraq’s security in general. One of the most important changes “is to reduce the manifest presence of the foreign forces in the streets of Iraq’s cities. The departure of the foreign forces from inside the cities, in particular Baghdad, is important and will boost the security situation” in Iraq. He added that it is also important “to give more responsibilities and authorities to the Iraqi security forces to carry out military operations alone or with the foreign forces in the way of training and preparation.” He said: “We want acceleration in equipping, training, preparing, and arming the Iraqi security forces instead of waiting for a long time. What they are talking about achieving in years can be achieved in months.”

Al-Rubaie went on to say that the government’s plan against the security deterioration, especially the issue of disarming the militias and confronting the insurgency, “is an integrated one because it is a political issue and its treatment must be political.” He added: “The government has taken a series of measures with the political parties that have militias in order to bring them to the negotiations table. The most noticeable success is Al-Mahdi Army joining the political dialogue process and our success in isolating the alien elements — that is, those manipulated by regional and international parties — from the main body of Al-Mahdi Army which is under the control of Al-Sayyid Muqtada al-Sadr.”

The Iraqi national security adviser disclosed that the government is about to implement military operations to liquidate the leaders in the insurgency movement and said: “The government will not hesitate to use security measures against any militia, whether it is Shiite or Sunni. It has issued orders to liquidate the death squads’ leaders from both sides or arrest them in special operations based on intelligence information.” He stressed that violence in Iraq has not increased but that its nature has changed and pointed to “successes we have achieved against Al-Qaeda organization. It is in retreat and has large vacuum in its leadership.”

Referring to a new role by the Shiite community in the insurgency, he said: “After the Samarra bombings, some undisciplined and uncontrolled Shiite youths and alien elements in the militias wanted to take the law into their own hands and started to act in an unnatural way.” This was a reference to elements in Al-Mahdi Army that are outside Muqtada al-Sadr’s control. Al-Rubaie believes that the insurgency in Iraq has become today mixture of extremists, insurgents from the previous regime, and Shiites groups involved in a cycle of action and reaction.