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."
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."
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]
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
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
"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.