'This is unfair' say Iraqis on US panel threat - Mercedes-Benz Forum

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'This is unfair' say Iraqis on US panel threat

A call for President George W. Bush to reduce US support to Iraq if Baghdad fails to improve security drew a sour response from Iraqi politicians, who said Washington had an obligation to back their government.

"The US calls itself an occupying force in Iraq and, according to the Geneva Conventions, if you are an occupier then you are responsible for the country," said parliamentarian Mahmud Othman, a Kurd.

"They have no right to to do this. This is unfair."
Bassim Ridha, a top advisor to Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, said the White House has to support Baghdad "all the way".
"If they do not support the government then it will look as if they do not do what they preach," Ridha said. "We need their support to go forward."
A high-level, bipartisan panel urged Bush Wednesday to act to halt a "grave and deteriorating" crisis in Iraq by holding talks with Iran and Syria and starting to withdraw US combat forces.
The report said Washington must step up action -- including the threatened reduction of political, military and economic support -- to make the Iraqi government improve security.
Haidar al-Abadi, a member of Maliki's Dawa party and close associate to the prime minister, said most of the panel's recommendations, including a dialogue with Iran and Syria and increased training for Iraqi security forces, had been expected.
But the threat to reduce support was new.
"We were told there would not be pressure as such," said Abadi. "In our dialogue with the US administration, we said that we would work together."
While recognized US concerns over where its money goes, he emphasized that this was everyone's fight.
"We are all in the same boat; we are not fighting only internal criminals but we are fighting international terrorism," Abadi said. "We need support for that."
The Iraq Study Group also proposed a major drawdown of US troops in Iraq, including the withdrawal by 2008 of all combat brigades not necessary for force protection.
Not all lawmakers saw the report in a negative light, with one even saying it gives an opportunity for the government to address the grievances of its fractious components.
"There are measures, I think, that if Maliki commits to, will spare it from these threats of withdrawing support," said Zhafer al-Ani of the Sunni Iraqi Concord Front, the largest Sunni bloc in Iraqi parliament.
Despite being part of the national unity government, Sunnis have accused Maliki and his fellow Shiites of running the country in an sectarian manner, and of freezing them out of the decision-making process.
Ani detailed a series of measures the government could take to address Sunni grievances, which he said would go a long way to meeting the recommendations of the study group.
"Most importantly, the Iraqi government in its decisions, needs to show a national face and not a sectarian one," he said.
Even before the report came out, the prime minister of the Kurdish autonomous region, Nechirvan Barzani, dismissed its significance -- at least for Kurds.
"None of the people in the Iraqi Study Group have ever visited the Kurdish region," he said in a press conference just hours before the reports release.
"They haven't asked us about our opinion so we think there will be great shortcomings in the report."
On Tuesday, Maliki announced plans to resume efforts at achieving national reconciliation and for holding a regional conference -- two key recommendations of the report.
However, since taking office, Maliki has issued a number of calls for national reconciliation, and the Arab League has had a conference in the works for well over a year that has never materialized.
Relations between the sectarian and ethnic-based parties in the national unity government have become so strained, that journalists were barred last week from covering parliamentary debates to keep from publicizing the harsh exchanges. In Baghdad itself, a six-month-long US-Iraqi operation to pacify the restive capital has yet to stem the grim daily diet of violence.
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