Baghdad: The Iraqi Army was supposed to pull
out of the nation`s cities by the end of this year but is
delaying the pullback over security concerns, the Iraqi
military spokesman has said.
The delay is an acknowledgment that even after four years
of declining violence, Iraq`s police force is not capable of
maintaining security on its own.
The other worry is that violence will increase when
American troops complete their own withdrawal from the country
at year`s end.
The government`s plan remains to eventually hand over
security to the police and pull Iraqi troops back to bases
outside the cities.
But the spokesman for the Baghdad military operations
command, Qassim al-Moussawi, said yesterday that the military
is worried that the police will not be able to handle security
in all areas of the country.
"We started to hand over gradually in some areas. But
other areas we can`t hand over to the police because still the
Interior Ministry needs the support of the Iraqi Army. It is
not capable now nor by the end of 2011."
The Iraqi Army`s presence can be felt all over Iraq`s
quasi-militarized cities, where soldiers in helmets and flak
vests and carrying AK-47`s man checkpoints and drive around in
The Army has received the bulk of the training and support
from the US military and is generally seen as more competent
than the police.