Middle East News
Iraqi government warned US against hasty troop withdrawal
May 19, 2008, 14:20 GMT
Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt - The Iraqi government on Monday warned US presidential candidates from the Democratic Party against a hasty withdrawal of US troops from Iraq.
'Any premature withdrawal could create many problems for Iraq and the region,' said Deputy Prime Minister Barham Saleh on Monday on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in the Egyptian resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh.
He added that Iraq would in the foreseeable future continue to require a strong presence of US troops in the country, even if only in a supporting role as was the case with the recent offensive against Shiite militias in the southern city of Basra.
In March, after hundreds of members of the Iraqi security forces refused to fight against militias of the al-Mahdi army of Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, the British government decided to postpone its troop withdrawal from southern Iraq, saying the Iraqi military was not fully battle ready.
Saleh, a Kurdish politician, added that although 'the overall security situation has improved' in Iraq, it was still too soon to have all Iraqi refugees to return to the country.
His remarks warning about a US troop withdrawal come to the backdrop of campaign speeches by Democratic Party candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama who have in various degrees pledged to withdraw US troops from Iraq.