During a Sunday afternoon closed-door conversation with Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki of Iraq, Adm. William J. Fallon, who is in charge of the United States Central Command, stated that Iraq needs to make political progress by next month, according to the New York Times.
Fallon said progress was needed to counter the growing opposition to the war in Congress, also stating that they should strive to complete a law on the division of oil proceeds. The Shiite-dominated government, stated Fallon, has consolidated its power and should have the confidence to take initiative and reach out to its opponents.
Ryan C. Crocker, the American ambassador to Iraq, who was present during the admiral’s statement, obtained from Maliki reassurance that he would try make some progress in the up-coming weeks. However, he added, “there are lots of difficulties that are not well understood from outside. Still, we’re trying hard.” The Iraqi government still faces many problems that they need to overcome he said, including security, neighboring Sunni states, and a complicated legal agenda.
Fallon used his trip to Iraq to reinforce a message that several other Washington officials have made, that political progress in Iraq was lagging behind, trying to emphasize the urgency of obtaining results soon. In January, President Bush increased the amount of American troops in Iraq, not to win a military victory but to increase security in the country so that Iraqi leaders could develop a program of political reconciliation.
But, even after that, little political progress was visible. The Bush administration will have to issue a report to Congress in July on the developments in Iraq thus far and the accomplishments of the new strategy. Admiral Fallon stated when referring to the oil law in progress, “Is it reasonable to expect it to be completed in July? We have to show some progress in July for the upcoming report.”
Fallon brought up the issue of Iraq’s army and police forces. Creating a security force was not just about training troops and providing supplies. Iraqis had to be confident that some of those working for the government were not carrying out a sectarian agenda. Mr. Maliki agreed with him that this has been a big problem in Iraq and posted a major threat to the security of the country. The two also spoke of surrounding nations, according to the New York Times. Both Fallon and Maliki agreed that the cooperation of Iran and Syria will be necessary to development, but will not be easy to obtain. Maliki continued to say that he hopes Iraq receives recognition for its positive developments so far, which should be listed in a September report.
Gordon, Michael R. “U.S. Warns Iraq That Progress is Needed Soon.” New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/12/world/middleeast/12military.html?th&emc=th