Published January 14, 2015
Iraq's U.S.-appointed leaders expressed disappointment Tuesday with the American blueprint for post-occupation Iraq, saying they must have greater control over their country's own security forces.
Many Iraqis also were unimpressed by President Bush's vow to tear down the notorious Abu Ghraib prison (search), where U.S. guards are accused of abusing Iraqi prisoners. The problem is not the building, some said, but the training of U.S. troops.
The U.S. plan for post-occupation Iraq, outlined in a draft resolution submitted to the United Nations on Monday, hands over power to an interim Iraqi government on June 30.
But it does not address how much control the government would have over Iraqi security forces, which remain overseen by U.S.-led international troops.
"We found it less than our expectations," Iraqi Governing Council president Ghazi Mashal Ajil al-Yawer (search) told reporters after a gathering to discuss the resolution.
Council member Ahmad Chalabi (search) went further, saying the draft resolution "will fail the test for Iraqi sovereignty."
Iraq's defense minister, Ali Allawi (search), said he expects Iraq's security forces to be ready to replace foreign soldiers within a year.
"The timing of a presence of a multinational force, it is a question of months rather than years," Allawi said in London at a news conference with British Defense Minister Geoff Hoon. "The multinational force will need to be replaced by an indigenous force, an Iraqi force, in the course of a year."
He said an Iraqi security force should be in place "by and large" before national elections set for January.
In a statement, the Governing Council said it wanted to address full Iraqi control of "the activities of the Iraqi armed forces and security forces." Al-Yawer said he hoped input from the council would be incorporated into the final version of the U.N. resolution.
For nearly the past year, the United States has been training Iraqi police, security and military forces, but U.S. officials say they still are not ready to take care of security.
The draft resolution authorizes a U.S.-led international force to continue security duties in Iraq — though the force's mandate will be reviewed in a year or sooner if the Iraqi government due to take power after January elections requests it.
Chalabi — a former favorite of war planners at the Pentagon who has fallen out with the Americans in recent months — said Iraqi control of the security services was the only way to give the armed forces "the moral strength to defend the country."
"One of the foundations of sovereignty is that the Iraqi government must control the armed forces regarding recruitment, supplies or movements," he said.
Council member Mahmoud Othman (search) told The Associated Press the Iraqis were frustrated by the absence of Iraqi input in the drafting of the U.N. resolution. Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari (search) will travel to New York to raise Iraqi concerns to Security Council ambassadors, Othman said.
The introduction of the draft U.N. resolution set the stage for intense negotiations with longtime critics of the war, such as France and Germany, who are demanding that Iraq's interim government be the key decision-maker on security issues.
Many in Iraq and in Europe fear the interim government will not be seen as legitimate if it does not have a credible voice in the operations of armed forces on its own soil.
Hours after the draft resolution was presented to the Security Council, Bush delivered a nationally televised address vowing that American forces would stay in Iraq until it was free and democratic.
Chalabi dismissed Bush's speech, saying it covered no new ground and included no new political initiative to solve the Iraq crisis.
Bush also said Abu Ghraib prison would be demolished once a new high-security facility was built.
"I personally don't think that the building in itself has a meaning either positive or negative," Interior Minister Samir Shaker Mahmoud al-Sumeidi (search) said. "I would not remove it but would change the way it is managed."
Ahmed Hassan al-Uqaili, deputy chief of the Human Rights Organization in Iraq (search), dismissed Bush's promise as a Republican ploy "to win the election in the United States."
"The problem is not changing the location or the name of the prison," he told the AP. "It's about the staff of the prison. Those people are supposed to be trained in human rights. Even if a person is a prisoner, he is a human being first who must be treated with respect and dignity."
Hamed al-Bayati (search), Iraq's deputy foreign minister, said the decision to demolish Abu Ghraib "must be left to the new government."
"The recent abuses committed by U.S. troops against Iraqi prisoners have certainly contributed to conjuring up the idea of demolishing the prison," he said.