View Full Version : Iraq Blasts U.S. Military Chief Over Pact Warning

10-22-2008, 03:53 PM
Iraq blasts US military chief over pact warning


Published: Wednesday October 22, 2008

Iraq on Wednesday blasted US military chief Michael Mullen for sounding a warning to its leadership over delays in the signing of the controversial security deal with Washington.

Mullen on Tuesday said that if Baghdad delayed signing the deal beyond the current UN mandate that ends on December 31, its security forces "will not be ready to provide for their security."

"And in that regard there is great potential for losses of significant consequence."

His comments were "not welcomed" by Iraq, said government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh.

"The Iraqi government is deeply concerned by the statement of Admiral Michael Mullen," Dabbagh said in a statement.

"Such a statement is not welcomed by Iraq. All Iraqis and their political entities are aware of their responsibilities and are assessing whether to sign the deal or not in a way that it is suitable to them.

"It is not correct to force Iraqis into making a choice and it is not appropriate to talk with the Iraqis in this way."

Despite Mullen's warning, the Iraqi cabinet decided to seek changes in the pact that is aimed at determining the presence of American troops in the country beyond 2008 when the UN mandate ends.

Admiral Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, had also charged that Iran was working hard to scuttle the passage of the so-called Status of Forces Agreement, or SOFA.

"We are clearly running out of time," said Mullen.

US Secretary of Defence Robert Gates later Tuesday echoed Mullen, warning of "pretty dramatic" consequences of not clinching an accord.

"The consequences of not having a SOFA and of not having a renewed UN authorisation are pretty dramatic in terms of consequences for our actions," Gates said in Washington.

The agreement calls for a withdrawal of US combat forces from Iraq by the end of 2011 and includes US concessions on jurisdiction over US troops accused of serious crimes while off duty or off base.

But the agreement has ignited fierce debate in Iraq with radical Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr leading protests against it.