Various Iraqi political forces welcomed U.S. President Barack Obama's announcement that U.S. forces will withdraw from Iraq by the end of August 2010 while retaining nearly 50,000 soldiers to train Iraqi troops. His decision is regarded by many as a step towards Iraqis assuming responsibility for their security and national affairs.
Iraqi parliament members asserted that Iraqi security forces are ready to cope with security isues in the provinces and assist the nation achieve full sovereignty. Parliamentary Security and Defence Committee member Abbas Al-Bayati urged political blocs to find ways of supporting the political process, stressing that the U.S. President's statement will chart a new course in relations with the U.S. At the same time, he also called for the U.S. administration to speed up the arming of Iraqi forces.
Head of the Al-Fadhila party in parliament Hasan al-Shammari echoed Al-Bayati’s comments. Calling on the Iraqi government to make the arrangements necessary to protect and sustain security and stability, al-Shammari stressed the need for political reform and praised the U.S. for announcing a withdrawal plan that includes a mechanism to ensure that Iraq has the support needed to protect its internal affairs and its emerging democratic institutions from external interference.
Other parliamentary parties expressed the view that Obama's announcement fulfils promises contained in the security agreement established between the two countries last December.
Iraqi Accordance Front M.P. Abdul Karim al-Samarraie said Obama's announcement requires Iraqi parties to unify in the face of challenges, especially interference from neighbouring countries. He also praised the capabilities of the Iraqi army, demonstrated when the Jan. 31 provincial council elections proceeded with no security incidents and brought an end to fears about deteriorating security that haunted Iraqis over the past year.
During a telephone conversation following President Obama’s announcement, he and Prime Minister Al-Maliki discussed ways to further develop bilateral relations through the creation of strategic framework for economic, trade, and education cooperation. Al-Maliki also called on the U.S. to provide Iraq the equipment needed to face security challenges, both external and internal.
The satisfaction that Iraqis expressed with Obama's speech reflects their confidence in the ability of national security forces to protect the Iraqi street. Iraqis are now beginning to set their sights on a future characterized by unity among the different strata that make up society and movement toward reconstruction of their country.
[The Information Office of the Prime Minister, news agencies]