Iraq president blasts US study group report

Updated: 2006-12-11 08:12

BAGHDAD, Iraq - The Iraqi president on Sunday sharply criticized the bipartisan US report calling for a new approach to the war, saying it contained dangerous recommendations that would undermine his country's sovereignty and was "an insult to the people of Iraq."

Iraqi President Jalal Talabani. Talabani, a long-time US ally, has made a stinging attack on the controversial Iraq Study Group report, calling it "dangerous" and insulting to Iraqi sovereignty.[AFP]
President Jalal Talabani, a Kurd and one of the staunchest US supporters within the Iraqi leadership, also said US training of Iraq's army and police had gone "from failure to failure."

He criticized the recommendation by the Iraq Study Group calling for increasing the number of US troops embedded with Iraqi units to train Iraq's forces from 3,000 to 4,000 currently to 10,000 to 20,000.

"It is not respecting the desire of the Iraqi people to control its army and to be able to rearm and train Iraqi forces under the leadership of the Iraqi government," he said during an interview with several reporters in his office in Baghdad.

Talabani was the most senior government official to take a stand against the report, which has also come under sharp criticism from American conservatives who claim it amounts to a veiled surrender in the war against terror.

Outgoing Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, in a surprise farewell visit to US troops in Iraq this weekend, said the consequences of the war's failure would be "unacceptable."

"We feel great urgency to protect the American people from another 9/11 or a 9/11 times two or three. At the same time, we need to have the patience to see this task through to success. The consequences of failure are unacceptable," Rumsfeld said at Asad air base in western Iraq. "The enemy must be defeated."

Talabani said the Iraqi government planned to send a letter to President Bush "expressing our views about the main issues" in the report. He would not elaborate.

"I believe that President George Bush is a brave and committed man and he is adamant to support the Iraqi government until they've reached success," Talabani said. He said setting conditions was "an insult to the people of Iraq."

Talabani's criticism of US training was directed at a key part of the study group's recommendation, which called for accelerated training of Iraqi forces and the withdrawal of most US combat troops by the first quarter of 2008.

Some US military experts have expressed concern that Iraqi forces will not be ready to assume full responsibility for the fighting by then. However, opposition to the war is rising within the United States, increasing pressure on Bush to shift strategy.

A roadside bomb killed one US soldier and wounded another Sunday west of Baghdad, the military said. The death raised to 43 the number of troops who have died this month and pushed the total US military death toll to 2,931 since the war started nearly four years ago.

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