Friday, April 10, 2009

Wire: Gen. Odierno Says We May Have to Ignore Iraq Deadline to Stop al-Qaeda Terror

Off the Wire

Off the Wire:

WASHINGTON, April 10, 2009 -- Newswires reported yesterday that activities of al-Qaeda in two of Iraq’s most troubled cities could keep U.S. combat troops engaged beyond the June 30 deadline for their withdrawal, the top U.S. commander in the country has warned.

U.S. troop numbers in Mosul and Baqubah, in the north of the country, could rise rather than fall over the next year if necessary, General Ray Odierno told The UK Times in his first interview with a British newspaper since taking over from General David Petraeus in September.

The Times reported the following news:
[Odierno] said that a joint assessment would be conducted with the Iraqi authorities in the coming weeks before a decision is made.

Combat troops are due to leave all Iraqi cities by the end of June. Any delay would be a potential setback for President Obama, who has pledged to withdraw all combat forces from Iraq by August 2010 as he switches his focus to Afghanistan.

The ultimate decision on keeping or withdrawing troops would be taken by Nouri al-Maliki, the Iraqi Prime Minister, handing him a big dilemma, given the desire by most Iraqis for the US military to leave the country.

Tens of thousands of supporters of Moqtada al-Sadr, the antiAmerican Shia cleric, marched through Baghdad yesterday, the sixth anniversary of the fall of the capital, to demand the withdrawal of US forces.

General Odierno, 54, said that he was also concerned about the risk of renewed conflict between Arabs and Kurds in northern Iraq, where tensions are rising over the ownership of territory. He also cited the “very dangerous” threat posed by Iranian-funded militants, who appear to be styling themselves on Lebanon’s Hezbollah.
The Times concluded by noting that President Barack Obama is seeking $83.4 billion for U.S. military and diplomatic operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, pressing for special troop funding that he opposed two years ago when he was a senator and George W. Bush was President. Obama’s request, including money to send thousands more troops into Afghanistan, would push the costs of the two wars to almost $1 trillion since the September 11, 2001, terror attacks against the US, according to the Congressional Research Service.

(Report from a commercial news source.)

Source: General Ray Odierno: we may miss Iraq deadline to halt al-Qaeda terror

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