Thursday, May 04, 2006

Three crucial weeks in Iraq

It is amazing how much information makes its way into a Borzou Daragahi dispatch from Iraq. The Los Angeles Times:
Prime Minister-designate Nouri Maliki, a Shiite Muslim, has three weeks to form a government acceptable to Sunni Arab and Kurdish political blocs that have been negotiating for ministerial posts.

In Washington, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Wednesday that no decisions on U.S. troop cuts were likely until Iraq's new Cabinet was in place.

Under current plans, 15 brigades with a total of 130,000 troops are scheduled to be sent to Iraq this summer, instead of the 17 brigades originally planned. But the Pentagon is in discussions with U.S. commanders in Iraq about whether the list of brigades can be cut.

Rumsfeld said U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad and Army Gen. George W. Casey, top commander of coalition forces in Iraq, could not make a final recommendation on troop levels until they had discussed the security situation with a new Cabinet.

Interim Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, a Kurd, said Wednesday that there was "positive progression" in the talks to pick a Cabinet. "We are about to get a deal, a package between all the key parliamentary blocs," he said in an interview.

But outside the Green Zone, the stream of attacks, which had subsided somewhat, appeared to be accelerating.


To quell the mostly Sunni Arab-led insurgency, President Jalal Talabani said Sunday that he had met with leaders of seven rebel groups. But one hard-line Sunni politician dismissed the talks as insignificant.
Three weeks for a cabinet. Troop levels determined after consultation with that entity. Violence on the rise. Talks with insurgents, but of what worth?

The next three weeks or a month in Iraq will be crucial.


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