80% of violence is related to foreign troops of US!!.
Maliki blames U.S. for Iraq's chaos
By Jay Price
BAGHDAD, Iraq (ocregister.com) – Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki pursued his open dispute with American officials Thursday, blaming the U.S.-led coalition for Iraq's chaos and faulting its military strategy.
His comments came in an interview as the White House and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld sought to play down the idea of a growing rift. Rumsfeld urged critics of administration policy "to just back off" and "relax."
According to a partial transcript of his interview with the Reuters news agency, al-Maliki said he thought that Iraqi troops, left to their own devices, could re-establish order in six months, not the 12 to 18 months that the top U.S. commander, Gen. William Casey, had predicted Tuesday.
Al-Maliki offered a different set of priorities for fighting violence than U.S. officials, who've said the greatest threat to Iraq comes from death squads aligned with Shiite Muslim militias.
Recounting a meeting with the head of one of those militias, the Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, al-Maliki said they agreed "that the efforts for all political groups should be focused on the most dangerous challenge, which is al-Qaeda and the Saddam Baathists." Both groups are made up primarily of Sunni Muslims.
Al-Maliki also said U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad was "not accurate" when he said that the Iraqi government had agreed to a timetable for dealing with Iraq's problems.
In Washington, administration officials again spoke out about what they expect from Iraq's government – and when.
Rumsfeld said there would be no set dates for Iraqi leaders to meet, nor any penalties imposed if they failed to meet goals.
He said the goals have no specific deadlines or consequences if they are not met by specific dates. "You're looking for some sort of a guillotine to come falling down if some date isn't met," Rumsfeld told reporters. "That is not what this is about." Noting that this is a political season, Rumsfeld complained that critics and the media are trying to "make a little mischief" by trying to "find a little daylight between what the Iraqis say or someone in the United States says."
He also said U.S. officials planned to increase spending on Iraq's army and police, but didn't say how much. The $70 billion in war spending that lawmakers tacked on to the 2007 defense-spending bill includes $1.7 billion to train and equip Iraq's security forces.
In Iraq, U.S. and Iraqi forces set up roadblocks Thursday and launched round-the-clock aerial surveillance of Baghdad as their search for an American soldier who may have been kidnapped entered its third day.
"We're using all assets in our arsenal to find this American soldier, and the government of Iraq is doing everything that it can also at every level," said Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell IV, the top U.S. military spokesman in Iraq.
"Make no mistake: We will not stop looking for our service member."
The search was so intense, Caldwell said, that military officials think it may have contributed to a sudden drop in the level of violence in the city, which had reached record highs in recent weeks. Caldwell said the violence had declined the last two days, though he cautioned that the reduction also might be the result of the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
He declined to provide details of the search for the soldier, who's been described as an American of Iraqi descent. Family members told U.S. officials that the soldier, who was a translator, came to visit them in central Baghdad. Shortly after he arrived, three carloads of masked gunman stormed the house and took him away in handcuffs, family members said.
Baghdad residents reported that parts of Sadr City, a slum stronghold of Shiite militias and death squads, were blockaded. For much of the day every entrance but one also was blocked into the central district, where the missing soldiers' family lived.
The U.S. military said Thursday that four Marines and a sailor had been killed in combat the day before, raising to 96 the number of American deaths in Iraq so far in October. All but four were killed in action, making the month's combat toll the worst for U.S. troops in two years.
In other violence, 12 police officers were killed in fighting with suspected militia gunmen in Baquba, northeast of Baghdad, officials said. Eighteen militants also were killed.
The deadliest month for U.S. forces in Iraq was November 2004, when fighting, mainly in the insurgent stronghold of Fallujah, 40 miles west of Baghdad, left 137 troops dead, 126 of them in combat. In January 2005, 107 U.S. troops were killed.