Russia Backs Keeping U.S. Force In Iraq

Team Infidel

Forum Spin Doctor
New York Times
October 23, 2008
Pg. 10

By Alissa Rubin and Katherine Zoepf
BAGHDAD — With the prospects for agreement on a proposed American-Iraqi security pact in doubt, the idea of allowing United States-led troops to stay under a United Nations mandate resurfaced this week, and Russia’s foreign minister told reporters that his [FONT=Times New Roman, Times]country[/FONT] would support such a plan.
There had been speculation that Russia might veto an extension of the United Nations Security Council resolution authorizing the foreign military presence in Iraq, in part because of frustration with American foreign policy in other parts of the world, notably support for the independence of Kosovo and the defense of Georgian claims to two breakaway enclaves.
“We’ll support Iraq’s request to the U.N. Security Council if the Iraqi government asks for the mandate of the current international military presence to be extended,” said Sergey V. Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, the RIA Novosti state news agency reported.
Mr. Lavrov spoke Monday as he traveled to New Delhi from Yerevan, Armenia. He said Russia was convinced that an immediate and complete pullout of international forces from Iraq was inadvisable, RIA Novosti said.
While the significance of Russia’s announcement is difficult to determine, it does remove one potential barrier to extending the resolution, which expires on Dec. 31. Whether the Iraqis would consider such a path is unclear, but with widening criticism of the proposed pact, at least it opens the way for another approach.
Meanwhile, the voices against the proposed agreement gathered strength as an influential Iraqi cleric living in Iran issued a fatwa condemning it.
An article published by Fars, the semiofficial Iranian news agency, reported that Ayatollah Kazim al-Hosseini al-Haeri, a cleric who is in the Iranian holy city of Qum, had called the proposed agreement “haram,” or forbidden, and said that approving it would be a “sin God won’t forgive.” The ayatollah once was a mentor for the anti-American cleric Moktada al-Sadr, who also opposes the pact.
Iraqi political leaders made clear on Wednesday that even if they were to decide to accept the deal, they would be unlikely to do so until after the American presidential elections on Nov. 4.
“There is no possibility to pass it in the Parliament because there are no sessions in this week or next week,” Abbas al-Bayati, a member of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki’s Dawa Party, said before a meeting of the political leaders from different blocs. “So discussions will continue until the end of this month.”
For the second time in a week, the Iraqi government explicitly criticized the Americans for public comments about the agreement. Ali al-Dabbagh, the government’s spokesman, said in a statement that the government was concerned about comments by Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who warned on Tuesday that the Iraqi military was not prepared to defend the country from insurgents and foreign forces on its own.
Mr. Dabbagh’s reproof came just days after he chided Gen. Ray Odierno for suggesting that Iran had tried to bribe Iraqi officials to vote against the proposed pact. General Odierno, the commander of United States and allied forces in Iraq, made the suggestion in an interview with The Washington Post.
Mr. Maliki met on Wednesday with representatives of Iraq’s Christian sects, assuring them that the armed extremists who had been driving Christians from their homes in Mosul, Iraq’s third largest city, would be punished. About half the Christian population in Mosul — 2,270 families, according to Iraq’s Ministry of Human Rights — has fled this month in response to escalating threats and killings.
Mr. Maliki also promised that the government would protect the Christians remaining in Mosul and that it would offer Christians a larger role in the security forces that protect their neighborhoods. His office had earlier pledged cash payments of about $860 to every Christian family that returned to Mosul.
Few took up the government on its offer, but an official in Iraq’s Human Rights Ministry announced Wednesday that the flight of Christians from Mosul had ceased.
In Mosul on Wednesday, a car bomb killed four people and wounded three others.
And near the border with Syria, Iraqi officials reported having found mass graves containing the remains of 34 people, according to The Associated Press. The bodies were believed to be those of Iraqi Army recruits from Karbala who were killed by gunmen from Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia.
In Diyala Province this week, Iraqi security forces raided the homes of Sunni Awakening movement leaders, and made several arrests. Sunni leaders in the area said that the warrants were based on false charges by officials in the local government, which is mainly Shiite.
A house belonging to Mullah Shihab al-Safi, an Awakening leader in Diyala, was raided, but he was not home at the time, he later told Reuters.
Mullah Safi told Reuters that he changed his location frequently to avoid capture. Laith Saleh al-Nadawi, another prominent Awakening member, was arrested at his home south of Baquba on Monday night with three others, said an Awakening member, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he feared retaliation from local security forces.
“We are facing two wars at [FONT=Times New Roman, Times]the[/FONT] same time; one with Al Qaeda and the other with these vexatious arrests,” the man said. “Removing us from the ground will mean new security breaches in areas that have been secured for months. This will give Al Qaeda a good opportunity to work more freely again.”
[FONT=Times New Roman, Times]Tareq Maher contributed reporting[/FONT] from Baghdad, and employees of The New York Times from Diyala Province and Mosul.
“There is no possibility to pass it in the Parliament because there are no sessions in this week or next week,” Abbas al-Bayati, a member of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki’s Dawa Party, said before a meeting of the political leaders from different blocs. “So discussions will continue until the end of this month.”

You're joking right? About a matter as important as this you guys are closing shop? Damn... these guys really don't deserve a country.