Rice in Iraq, senator Warner expresses concern
Iraq-USA, Politics, 10/6/2006
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice made an unannounced visit to Baghdad, Iraq, yesterday to consult with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki about his efforts to achieve national reconciliation between the country's various ethnic and sectarian groups.
Speaking to reporters en route to Baghdad, Rice said the role of the United States "is to support all the parties and indeed to press all of the parties to work toward that resolution quickly because obviously the security situation is not one that can be tolerated, and it is not one that is being helped by political inaction."
Rice said the national political compact al-Maliki is working to forge would cover the management of oil resources, the de-Ba'athification process, the demobilization of militias, issues related to the country's federal structure and the reform of the constitution.
"The core of getting a security environment, a stable security environment, really does rest on getting some of these political issues resolved," she said. Rice said she would work to help all parties understand "how their interests are going to be represented and how their interests are going to be served in this political process."
Earlier in the week, Rice visited Saudi Arabia and Egypt, where she also met with foreign ministers from the Gulf states and Jordan to discuss what Iraq's neighbors could do to support the political reconciliation process. Several of those nations have influence with groups inside Iraq. Rice said she would discuss the results of those meetings with al-Maliki.
The secretary refused to speculate what groups might be granted amnesty within the reconciliation process, saying that decision is up to the Iraqis. "Obviously there are people... who are still terrorists and are always going to be terrorists and who have been engaged in activities that's going to make it difficult for them to ever be a part of a political process," she said. "But really, this is an Iraqi process.... Every country, when it goes through a war, has to go through this process of reconciliation and I think that's a conversation we have to let them have."
Rice's only comment on the management of Iraq's oil resources was that "oil needs to be a unifying factor."
The secretary praised the Iraqi Interior Ministry's decision to dissolve a police brigade because of its ties to death squads. "That's a very positive thing because we've said many times that the Interior Ministry in the prior government, before the permanent government was put in place, was not active enough in really rooting out potential corruption and potential violence within the ministry itself, or of the ministry forces," she said.
Rice traveled to Erbil today to meet with Kurdish Regional President Massoud Barzani and discuss the national reconciliation project aimed at uniting Iraq's various ethnic and religious communities behind a shared political compact for the country's future.
The secretary sought to ease Kurdish concerns about forging a federal alliance with Iraq's predominantly Arab southern and central regions. "We now are able to have a situation in which we will have a democratic Iraq, not just a democratic Kurdish region," she told reporters after her meeting with Barzani.
Iraqi Kurdistan enjoyed relative autonomy from Baghdad and developed solid political institutions under the protection of the US no-fly zone for more than a decade following the Gulf war of 1990-1991.
Rice said ethnic Kurds need no longer fear oppression at the hands of Iraq's Arab majority. "There are guarantees in the constitution of that unified Iraq.... And I think that the process that is going on now in Baghdad is one that can, within the framework of a united Iraq, protect and defend the rights of all people," she said.
Barzani agreed with Rice on the reconciliation process and committed himself to pursuing a unified Iraq. "We will continue in our efforts in our cooperation to implement the process that we have started until we establish a federal, democratic, pluralistic Iraq," he said. He added the Kurdish people reserve a right to self-determination, but "the parliament in Kurdistan has adopted, within the framework of a federal democratic Iraq, a federal system."
Department Of State spokesman Tom Casey was asked today "According to Associated Press today, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice appealed Friday, that means today, for cooperation from the autonomous and oil-rich Kurdistan north, Rice visiting the region's powerful-most President Massoud Barzani less than two weeks after the regional government threatened to break away from Iraq in a dispute over oil. After a session with the staff, followed by a lengthy one-on-one meeting of the Kurdish government offices in Erbil, Condoleezza Rice and Massoud Barzani stood in front of U.S. and Kurdish flags and spoke to reporters. Any comments since U.S. is fighting there for a unified and not partitioned Iraq?"
Casey said "Obviously, as the Secretary said, we continue to push for a unified Iraq. We want all parties in the country to be able to work together for the benefit of everyone. And I think as we've made clear repeatedly and as is called for in the hydrocarbon law that the Iraqi parliament is now considering, we believe that Iraq's oil resources should be used for the benefit of all the people of Iraq."
The LA Times reported today that "With violence bloodying Iraq, Kurds in the peaceful north have been showing signs of going their own way, raising their own flag and even hinting they could secede in a dispute over oil wealth -- moves that have alarmed Shiites and Sunnis."
Following her trip to the Kurdish region, Rice commented on the area's rapid growth since her previous visit more than a year earlier.
"Even in that short period of time, the growth there, the construction, the planning of a new airport, is pretty remarkable," she told reporters on the airplane en route to London. "And I think it shows the potential of this entire country when the security situation is more manageable."
Rice welcomed the closing of Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) offices in Iraqi Kurdistan, saying, "Iraq's territory cannot be used for terrorism against any country." The PKK is a militant group of Turkish Kurds that has sparked tensions between Ankara and Baghdad by establishing bases of operation in Iraq and carrying out cross-border raids into Turkey.
Meantime, the BBC reported today that US Senator John Warner, Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said the situation in Iraq is shifting sideway and the government is not able to meet the fundamental responsibilities. He said in about 3 months, if violence does not decrease, the US should reassess its position and he would "not take any option off the table."
Rumsfeld's evaluation of Iraq, Kissinger's role in US policy
Iran: conflict not with Iraq policy, but US
White House reacts to report on terror spread due to Iraq war
Please add a link on your webiste pointing to ArabicNews.com and bookmark ArabicNews.com & subscribe to our daily email news bulletin.
| Advertise on ArabicNews.com. MyFlowers.com sold more than $2700 of flowers in one month advertising on ArabicNews.com! Make your company, and products a success. Special rate for new and small business. Inquire!Advertising Info