Iraqis To Take Over Security By Year’s End?

Iraqi President Jalal Talabani is saying that Iraqis will take over security in all 18 of Iraq’s provinces by the end of the year.

I think Talabani realizes that the amount of time that US forces will have a political mandate to remain in Iraq is running out. The Bush Administration remains firm, but key members of Congress are balking at the deterioration in security in Iraq in recent months and the cost in American lives that securing Iraq is requiring. The Iraqi military will likely be able to take over most of the security tasks in Iraq by the end of the year, just as they have done in Muthanna Province recently.

At this point, cutting and running isn’t an option, but sooner or later we’ll have to cede responsibility back to the Iraqis on security matters – which is where that responsibility ultimately belongs. We will still have troops in Iraq, probably for some time, but those troops will be primarily there to train and assist Iraqi troops when necessary.

The first priority needs to be controlling the sectarian violence and securing Baghdad. That is something that the Iraqis will need to do for the long term, and now is the time for them to begin. The Iraqi government knows that sooner or later, we will be withdrawing from Iraq, and they will have to provide security. The end of the year gives them four months to prepare – hopefully it will be enough.

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