NR: "General Odeirno...will now have to go to the Iraqi government and ask their permission."
June 28, 2009
Another update to the preparation for the handover, including a clip from General Odierno's CNN interview earlier today.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD: All right. Well, it is a day that many Iraqis have actually been waiting for. Tuesday is the deadline for most American troops to withdraw from Iraqi cities. CNN's Michael Ware is in Baghdad. So, Michael, what does this mean exactly?
MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well this is the great question, isn't it? Certainly today, just firstly on current events side, we had two more car bombings in the capital. Fortunately, there was no deaths reported so far but 13 Iraqis were wounded, some police and some civilians. Now, what is this handover going to mean? I mean, it's historic, the U.S.-led war in Iraq is about to come to an end. Yet the American commander here on the ground, Lieutenant General Ray Odierno, the man who is true architect of the American surge here in the capital of Baghdad, went to some lengths to explain that there may be an upside to America now taking it's supporting role. Let's take a look what General Odierno said earlier today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEN. RAY ODIERNO, COMMANDER, MULTI NATIONAL FORCE IRAQ: I think sometimes it is about strategic advantage over tactical things. I think again it is important for us to be in line with the security agreement that we signed in December. I think from a military and security standpoint it is time for us to move out of the cities. We will still be there providing training, advising, enablers for the Iraqi security forces.
I believe they are capable of doing this. We will still be conducting significant operations outside of the cities, in the belts around the major cities and I still believe that this will enable us to maintain the current security and stability situation here in Iraq.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WARE: Now, what General Odierno has outlined there is of course entirely correct, however one thing that he said in the sense that the Iraqi security forces, who now number in the hundreds of thousands can do the job. Yes, indeed, that is true but only if 130,000 American combat troops are here as an insurance policy. Only if American air support is there to give them cover. Only if they can call upon heavy American fire power and only if American advisers continue to work with them.
The other thing is that whilst the Americans may be operating in the deserts and the Green Zone that surrounds the capital itself, the main center of gravity for this insurgency has been in the urban areas and there, the Americans cannot operate, except at the behest of the Iraqi government. To conduct an operation, indeed to arrest a suspected enemy combatant General Odierno and his commanders will now have to go the Iraqi government and ask their permission.
WHITFIELD: Wow, that is going to be a fascinating and dynamic relationship that emerges from this. A big test. Michael Ware thanks so much from Baghdad.