London, Asharq Al-Awsat- Captain Eric Clark, the spokesman for the Dubai-based US Central Command, has expressed his country’s confidence of the success of the plan to secure the capital Baghdad, the “Law Enforcement Plan” which aims to control security in the city.
He pointed out that the plan would guarantee an all-out confrontation and elimination of the acts of violence and terror in Baghdad, adding that the actual results of the “Law Enforcement Plan” would appear on the ground by the end of summer or the beginning of fall.
He talked about dividing Baghdad into 10 zones and said: “I can assert that all the zones are secured by Iraqi and American forces that are seeking to get rid of Al-Qaeda elements and death squads.” He added that sectarian violence has lessened and Al-Qaeda’s remnants fled since the start of the Baghdad security plan.
Capt. Clark’s statements were made on the 4 th anniversary of the American war on Iraq. He said the “Law Enforcement Plan” differs from other plans that we carried out in the past because of the factors associated with its announcement, foremost of them the pledges of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s Government not to exclude any sectarian factions or militias from the disarmament plan.
Speaking to a limited number of Arab correspondents, he said: “The American forces benefited from Al-Fallujah lesson before two years. We went there for the purpose of destroying Al-Qaeda’s remnants, raided the houses and hideouts house by house, and found weapons, money, and ammunition. But we did not leave forces behind to secure the city, which allowed the suspicious elements to return.” He added that the situations were relatively improving in several governorates that enjoy security and stability and therefore the security plan would focus on the Baghdad area and this requires a surge in the number of American troops there, which will reach the level of divisions that would take part in security the capital in June. He talked about security posts inside the 10 zones under the supervision of Gen. David Petraeus, the commander of the American forces in Iraq who is a field man, whose tasks would be to open direct channels of communications with the tribal leaders and coordinate with the ordinary man in confronting the sectarian violence.
He admitted that the American forces have made several tactical mistakes since the downfall of Baghdad and said: The death of a large number of innocent Iraqis and also the death of a number of American soldiers is regrettable. He added that restoration of security, stability, prosperity, and reconstruction in Iraq require a comprehensive plan and pointed to the American forces’ efforts in the fields of reconstruction and infrastructure in order to make life easier for the Iraqis. He said: Anyone who follows the big argument in Washington at present about the American presence in Iraq and the dangers and violence to which the forces in Iraq are subjected realizes the magnitude of the challenge we have been facing for four years. He added: The quick departure of American forces before completing their missions is unacceptable to the United States, the Iraqi Government, its citizens, or even the entire region because the results of such a quick withdrawal and before achieving the goals will be catastrophic for the entire region.
He referred to President Bush’s address to the Americans the day before yesterday, his appeal for patience, and his warning to the doubters that hastiness in withdrawing the forces would have destructive consequences.
Clark talked about Iran feeding the sectarian violence in Iraq with money, weapons, and internationally banned ammunition and also about the death of American soldiers in Iraq from banned ammunition made in Iran and said: “We are certain of this. Armor piercing ammunitions made in Iran which kill soldiers and the innocent were discovered.” He pointed out that worse than this was Iran’s supplying the terrorist groups with the technology to make weapons inside Iraq and said the death squads used Iranian weapons and ammunition against the coalition forces soldiers, adding that they are horrible and lethal weapons and this is the kind of danger that our soldiers in Iraq are facing.
In reply to a question about the whereabouts of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr leader of Al-Mahdi Army, he said: “The best information we have is that he left Iraqi territories before few months and went directly to Iran.” He added that the Shiite leader Al-Sadr left Iraq before the implementation of the security plan in Iraq.
He acknowledged that Al-Qaeda organization has proved its presence in the media war with the United States within the context of the war on terror but said this remains a temporary victory and that the battle is continuing and not over yet. He talked about the success of the organization’s cadres in videotaping the terrorist operations and transmitting them on the internet, sometimes just half an hour after the operation.
In reply to an Asharq Al-Awsat question, Captain Clark said, that Abu-Ayyub al-Masri is Al-Qaeda’s leader in Iraq and that he saw conflicting reports indicating he is detained in Egypt but is confident that Abu-Ayyub is operating in Iraq. He refused to recognize the so-called “Islamic State of Iraq” as it is called by statements released on the fundamentalists’ websites and which talk about establishing the “Islamic State of Iraq” in Al-Anbar or the Sunni triangle and said: We are dealing with terrorist elements from Al-Qaeda. He underlined the need to confront and contain the campaign of lies and the propaganda that Al-Qaeda and its media arm “Sahab” are disseminating on the internet, which he described as a “successful public relations” company. The US official went on to say that Al-Qaeda’s mouthpieces are strong and eager to deliver constantly their lies to the famous satellite channels and major daily newspapers, almost hourly, in order to distort the US image and damage its credibility. He added that Al-Qaeda is using the internet to offer a good technical level and is exploiting it to serve the “terrorist purposes” with the aim of magnifying its creed “of violence, injustice, tyranny, and extremism and this represents a driving force for these terrorists who are acting everywhere.” He said Al-Qaeda’s plans are bound to endanger innocent men, women, and children in addition to disseminating lies. He then stressed that Al-Qaeda would not defeat the Americans or their Iraqi security forces allies.