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Iraq's Elections Could Be 'Magnet' for Success, Adviser Says

By Vince Crawley

Nov. 29, 05

Washington -- Iraq's three main ethnic groups appear ready to conduct successful elections December 15, creating a new permanent government that should defuse the insurgency and be ready to negotiate for a reduced U.S. military presence, a senior Pentagon adviser says.

"The component parts for a successful government are there," Ambassador Evan Galbraith said of Iraq's upcoming election. Galbraith, a former U.S. ambassador to France, is Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's representative in Europe as well as the defense adviser to the U.S. Mission to NATO.

Galbraith discussed the U.S. strategy for winning in Iraq during a November 28 panel discussion at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative policy research organization in Washington.

"Sure we can expect some stumbles by the new government," he said. "God knows, the challenges are myriad. But the preponderance of evidence is for success."

Also taking part in the discussion was U.S. Army Brigadier General Mark Kimmet, deputy director for strategy at Central Command.

Kimmet said Iraqi forces are playing an increasingly important role in combat operations, which could allow the United States to achieve its goal of reducing the numbers of American troops throughout the region. Currently, 200,000 American troops are serving in the Central Command area, which includes Afghanistan, Iraq, Kuwait, Bahrain and the Horn of Africa.

Iraq's election is expected to create a permanent government that would serve for four years under Iraq's new Constitution, which was approved in an October 15 referendum.

Galbraith said leaders of Iraq's main ethnic groups all have a stake in creating a working government.

"The three groups -- the Shi'a and the Kurds and the Sunnis -- all now clearly have a purpose in having this succeed, in having this government be created and being successful," he said.

For Shi'ites, the ethnic majority in Iraq, a successful representative government "gives them political power," Galbraith said. On the other hand, Shi'ites realize they need to share power with other minorities in order to maintain stability and international support, he said.

Ethnic Kurds, in Iraq's north, have held an autonomous position since the aftermath of the 1991 Gulf War, but neighboring Turkey, with a large Kurdish population of its own, strongly opposes the creation of a separate Kurdish nation.

"The Kurds need Iraq, the cover of Iraq, being part of Iraq to keep them in a balanced position, shall we say, with the Turks," Galbraith said. Remaining part of Iraq also gives the Kurds a stronger negotiating position for deciding who would control Iraq's northern oil fields, he said.

INCREASED SUNNI COOPERATION

Galbraith acknowledged that Iraq's Sunnis, who controlled the country under the former Saddam Hussein regime, have been involved heavily in the ongoing violent insurgency. However, Sunni leaders increasingly have cooperated with the democratic process to ensure that their people have a say in the new government and to help foster stability, he said.

"Sunnis were the business class under Saddam the guys that had the concessions that did everything, had quite good training and experience. It was a very sophisticated business community. And businessmen want -- and need -- law and order," he said.

Iraq's permanent government has been almost three years in the making, but it will be sovereign and independent, Galbraith said.

"If you think about it, it's going to be a pretty powerful instrument," he said. The government will be based on an established constitution and will have authority to amend the constitution, he said. And it will be "backed up by the military firepower of the United States," he added. "That's a fairly awesome thing to think about when you're plotting to engage in its overthrow."

The election of the permanent government might well be a turning point for Iraq, Galbraith said.

"It will act like a magnet and draw people in," he said. "People will want to get on the bandwagon. They will see that this thing is going to work."

An important but "underappreciated" point, he said, is that a sovereign Iraqi government will be in a position to negotiate on the size of the continued U.S. military presence in Iraq. In Washington, congressional leaders increasingly have called for a timetable for troop reductions in Iraq, and President Bush has said that he considers the debate on force levels in Iraq to be a healthy reflection of American democracy.

"The drawdowns that we will engage in will be negotiated," Galbraith said. "We'll negotiate with a sovereign government in their country about what it is the military forces should be -- in the best interests of the government and, of course, ourselves."

MILITARY SUCCESSES SEEN AS UNDERREPORTED

Galbraith also said military successes in Iraq have been under-reported.

"We are methodically wiping out in 'hotspots' in insurgent strongholds," he said.

In a strategy shift put in place about six months ago, Iraq forces now accompany U.S. troops on combat missions. After the combined forces have taken control of a town or village, the Americans withdraw but the Iraqi security forces remain on the scene, maintaining order and helping to coordinate humanitarian and reconstruction operations.

"We are making progress, but it would be unwise to suggest that that progress is at a point of irreversible momentum," said General Kimmet.

"We've built an army," he said of Iraqi security forces. "But it will be some time before that army fully matures."

Both Galbraith and Kimmet said Iraq is just one battlefield in a larger war against the ideology of militant religious fundamentalism.

"At Central Command, our strategy is for the long war," Kimmet said. One of the main challenges facing U.S. leaders, he said, is finding the right balance for American troop levels in the larger Middle East and Central Asian region.

"We've got to get our posture right in the region," he said. With about 200,000 Americans stationed in the area, "it is our view that that number is just too large," Kimmet said. "And it can't sustain itself over time."

In Europe, the United States kept hundreds of thousands of military personnel on duty for decades throughout the Cold War, but Kimmet said conditions are significantly different in the Middle East. "We cannot use that as a model for the future inside the Middle East," he said. "So as we talk about the long war, we talk about reposturing ourselves into a smaller, more expeditionary, more capable force."

However, reinforcements could be sped back to the region if needed, he said.

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Who are the Christians of Iraq? 

November = Tishrin II 

Iraq's Elections Could Be 'Magnet' for Success, Adviser Says Nov. 29, 05

Assyrian Political posters for the upcoming elections Nov. 29, 05

Islamic reformers struggle to revise school textbooks Nov. 28, 05

Iraq's political-campaign season in full swing as violence continues Nov. 27, 05

The Crusades Remembered, a Different Perspective Nov. 26, 05

Iraqi Factions Seek Timetable for U.S. Pullout Nov. 25, 05

Dora:Baghdad's Neighborhood Becomes Trouble Spot Nov. 25, 05

Iraq: Election Official On Expat Voting Set Up Nov. 24, 05 

Prediction of a Better Future for Iraq Nov. 24, 05

Iraqi Kurdish leadership is more consumed with self-enrichment Nov. 23, 05

Early voting in Iraq's parliamentary election to begin December 12th  Nov. 22, 05

The Assyrian Church of the East Maintains Its Continuity Nov. 22, 05

Not all Middle Easterners are Muslim, Arab Nov. 21, 05

The Middle East Needs Lebanese Christians Nov. 21, 05

Academic Conference on Seyfo [genocide] Held in Sweden Nov. 20, 05

Anovel by Abdulsalam Nov. 20, 05 

Harbole": A documentary film Nov. 20, 05

Letter To the Hellenic Parliament  Nov. 20, 05

My Grandmother Heranus  Nov. 19, 05

Books About the Assyrians Nov. 17, 05  

A Moslem discovers the praise of Christian and Jewish scriptures in the Koran  Nov. 17, 05

Iran is behind the Badr Brigade who are accused of jailing and torturing the Sunnies Nov. 17, 05 

Democracy, the Kurdish Style.  Nov. 17, 05

Talabani Promises Pope Equality and Respect for All Religions Nov.16, 05

Assyrian Wedding Comes to Australian TV Nov. 15, 05

In Jordan, Chaldean Catholics help Iraqis Nov. 15. 05

Are you a Christian in the Middle East?  Nov. 14, 05

The Assyrian General Conference Election Platform for Iraq Nov. 12, 05

Old hotel may become home for Hurricane Katrina victims Nov. 12, 05

Iraqi leader affirms Christians' rights Nov. 11, 11, 05

Egypt's Christian-Muslim divide 11, 11, 05

Assyrian Family Attacked in Tikrit Nov. 11, 05

Ancinet Assyrian Style Citadel in Los Angeles Nov. 11, 05

Priests say Iraqi Christians now victims of extortion Nov. 08, 05

Iraq; International Religious Freedom Report 2005 Nov. 08, 05

Chaldean Synod to focus on Iraq and Liturgy Nov. 08, 05

Assyrian Killed in Kirkuk's Car Bombing Nov. 05, 05

Funeral of Grace Mgr. J. Y. Cicek Nov. 05, 05 

Witnesses Describe Ballot Fraud in Nineveh Nov. 04, 05

Chaldean synod should tackle Christian migration and evangelicals' proselytism,  11. 04, 05 

Unexpected Death of His Eminence Mor Julius Yeshu Çiçek Shocks Assyrians & the Syrian Orthodox Church Nov. 03, 05  

Three Christian schoolgirls beheaded in Indonesia Nov. 03, 05

On the trail of stolen Iraqi art Nov. 03, 05

Lost in the Sunni Triangle Leaders of Baghdad church presumed dead.  Nov. 03, 05

Who is Killing the Iraqi's and the Americans?   Nov. 02, 05

What Next in Iraq?  Nov. 02, 05

An American's View of Iraq's Assyrians  Nov. 01, 05

October = Tishrin I

New Coalitions Emerge for Parliamentary Elections in Iraq10, 31, 05

Should the U.S. Withdraw? Let the Iraqi People Decide 10, 31, 05

Those Who Voted Against Constitution Are Terrorists: Iraqi President 10, 30, 05

An Assyrian Engineer Killed by the Kurds in Kirkuk 10, 30, 05

Kurds Reclaiming Prized Territory In Northern Iraq 10, 30, 05

Dwyer: Most Iraqis want a constitution - and want U.S. troops to leave 10, 30, 05

The oldest lense 10, 28, 05

Westminster Hall debate on Iraqi Kurdistan  i.e. northern Iraq 10, 25, 05

Iraq constitution approved  10, 25, 05 

Assyrian and Babylonian medicine was surprisingly advanced 10, 24, 05 

What's in a Name? 10, 12, 05 

Draft constitution denies equal rights, say Iraq's Christians  10, 22, 05

Rejection of Iraqi Referendum Possible as Nineveh Vote Fraud Reviewed 10, 21, 05 

Rosie Malek-Yonan's Schedule of The Crimson Field Book Tour 10, 20, 05

TURKEY DECRIES the Assyro-Chaldean MONUMENT IN FRANCE 10, 20, 05

Vote Figures for Crucial Ninveh Province Don't Add Up 10, 19, 05

Iraq Constitution: Bad news for Christians  10, 19. 05

Assyrian students unite 10, 19, 05

Iraq bishops ready to seek help from Pope  10, 19, 05

Charter vote resonates with Valley Iraqis Likely passage gives many hope 10. 18. 05  

Dividing the Chaldeans from the Assyrians by the Iraqi Constitution  10, 18, 05

A monument in France dedicated to the Remembrance of Assyro-Chaldean massacres by the Ottoman Turks. 10, 17, 05

Swing state' of Nineveh may be moving in favour of constitution 10, 15, 05 

Iraq votes for the Constitution and for its future 10, 14, 05

Forgotten victims - Iraqi Christians who speak the language of Jesus  10, 14, 05

Mgr Sako: people in Kirkuk have not read the constitution but will vote  10,13, 05

Terrorism strikes all Iraqis, says Patriarch 10, 13, 05

Assyriska a national football team without a country  10, 12, 05

Referendum: 'Yes' in Kurdistan and Southern cities and 'No' in Kirkuk, al Anbar and Diala 10, 12, 05

Chaos depriving Towns from Voting - The Minorities Fear the Domination of Islamic Parties10, 12, 05 

Bas-reliefs of winged goddesses discovered in western Iran 10, 12, 05

Immigration of Iraqi Chaldeans Abroad Passes through Jordan 10, 12, 05

Baghdadis tell their stories  10, 12, 05

Assyrialogist Henry Saggs Dies at 84 10, 10, 05

Letter by Ms. Jacqueline Zomaya The Assyrian representative to the Iraqi National Assembly 10, 10, 05

The Kurds are "cleansing" their domain ­ and provoking a civil war in Iraq  10, 09, 05

Nestorian label "imposed unjustly upon the Assyrians"  10, 08, 05

Iran's Assyrian MP-Felicitation to the Supreme Leader  10, 8, 05

Syriac Manuscripts from the Vatican Library: Volume 1 10, 08, 05

Sunnis Threaten Referendum Boycott if Rules Not Changed  10, 05, 05

Helping the Iraqi refugees in Jordan  10, 04, 05

Final Draft of Iraqi Constitution  10, 03, 05

Two More Assyrian Children Orphaned  10, 02, 05

Discoveries of the Assyrian antiquities in Syria 10, 01, 05 

Sectarian Strife tears apart Baghdad's Neighborhoods 10, 01, 05

 

 

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