McCAIN'S "HUNDRED YEARS" WAR
McCain remarked in a question and answer session with reporters in New Hampshire that he would be content with occupying Iraq for 100 years.
Q: President Bush has talked about our staying in Iraq for 50 years-" (cut off by McCain)
McCain: "Make it a hundred."
Q: "Is that..." (cut off)
McCain: "We've been in South Korea ... we've been in Japan for 60 years. We've been in South Korea 50 years or so. That would be fine with me. As long as Americans..."
Q: [tries to say something]
McCain: "As long as Americans are not being injured or harmed or wounded or killed. That's fine with me, I hope that would be fine with you, if we maintain a presence in a very volatile part of the world where Al Qaeda is training and equipping and recruiting and motivating people every single day." [Democracy Arsenal, 1/3/07]
SECTARIANISM AND GENERAL INCOMPETENCE IS KEEPING THE IRAQI GOVERNMENT FROM FUNCTIONING PROPERLY
Iraqi deputy Prime Minister blames corruption on international community. Speaking at a new anti-corruption forum in Baghdad, deputy Prime Minister Barham Saleh blamed Iraq's culture of corruption on the actions of the international community and the controversial UN oil-for-food scheme. An analysis by the Berlin-based Transparency International in September found that Iraq was one of the three most corrupt countries in the world alongside Somalia and Myanmar. The anti-corruption forum met for the first time on Thursday, to bring together ministers, members of parliament, international representatives and businessmen. "It is necessary to coordinate with the international society." Saleh said, "But we refuse any foreign mandate on Iraqi resolutions." [AFP, 1/4/08]
Tension continues between Iraqi security forces and U.S. allied Sunni groups. In Baghdad's Sunni neighborhood of Azamiyah, fighting broke out Wednesday and Thursday between U.S. allied anti-extremist Sunni fighters and Iraqi security forces. The Sunni group, led by Abu Abed, said that the U.S. military had for the time being accepted a demand that Iraqi security forces withdraw from the inner part of the neighborhood to its edge. "We insist that security in the district should be handed over to the awakening and that no soldier of the (Iraqi) national guard should be in the district streets or alleys," he said. While the U.S. military wants the anti-extremist groups to eventually be integrated with the Iraqi security forces, the Shi'a-dominated government remains uneasy about the potential for the Sunni fighters to switch side again. [AP, 1/4/08]
Leader of most influential Shi'a political party softens his stance on Sunni Awakening Councils. Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, the leader of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq-- the backbone of the Shi'a political alliance--offered surprisingly conciliatory remarks on Thursday about the former insurgents and other Sunnis who have banded together into militias to work with American forces, stating that the groups had helped improve security and should be continued. In a speech in the Shi'a holy city of Najaf, al-Hakim said a major reason for recent security improvements was not merely a dependence on official security forces but also a reliance on tribal groups and local councils. "We still believe in continuing this strategy," said Mr. Hakim, the leader of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq. Mr. Hakim did not say whether the groups should be continued indefinitely, his speech appeared to soften more cautious comments he made just last month, when he warned that the Sunni groups should operate only in the most dangerous areas and should not be seen as a replacement for government forces.
[NY Times, 1/4/08]
VIOLENCE CONTINUES UNABATED
Violence throughout Baghdad and Diyala Province on Thursday underscores how tenuous the security situation remains. In Baghdad, at least three civilians were killed and seven others wounded by mortar shells. In Diyala, improvised bombs also killed two policemen near Khalis and one near Zaganiyah. Troops killed seven militants in a raid on what was believed to be an operation by Islamist extremists, the homegrown militant group that American officials say is foreign-led. The military said it had intelligence that the group had killed at least two people in the last two days. In Muqdadiya, in central Diyala, two American soldiers were shot dead and a third soldier was wounded in Diyala Province. [NY Times, 1/4/08]
Attacks prompt vehicle ban in Baqouba. Iraqi authorities ordered a one-day vehicle ban in Baqouba, capital of Diyala province, on Friday in response to a series of deadly suicide bombings and other attacks against Sunni fighters that have allied with the U.S. Baqouba police chief Brig. Hasan al Obaidi said the ban was imposed because of the "increased violent events during last week." The ban in the city about 35 miles northeast of Baghdad also aimed to protect worshippers going to mosques for Friday prayers. It was to last until late afternoon. [AP, 1/4/08]