Baghdad: The Iraqi army will require
American support for another decade before it is ready to
handle the country`s security on its own, Iraq`s army chief of
staff told a news agency on Wednesday.
Lieutenant General Babaker Zebari said Iraq`s
politicians had to find a way to "fill the void" after
American troops withdraw from the country at the end of next
year under a bilateral security pact.
"At this point, the withdrawal (of US forces) is
going well, because they are still here," Zebari said.
"But the problem will start after 2011; the
politicians must find other ways to fill the void after 2011,
because the army will be fully ready in 2020.
"If I were asked about the withdrawal, I would say
to politicians: the US army must stay until the Iraqi army is
fully ready in 2020."
Zebari`s remarks came as US forces were in the
process of withdrawing thousands of soldiers from Iraq to meet
an August 31 declaration of an end to combat operations by US
By that point, Washington has committed to having
50,000 troops stationed in Iraq, from about 64,000 now.