Iraqi Ambassador Says Early U.S.
Troop Withdrawal Would Be Mistake

By Gerry J. Gilmore

An early withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq would be a catastrophic mistake, Iraq’s Ambassador to the United States said.

“If we set out a date now for a complete withdrawal [of U.S. forces from Iraq}, you can bet your bottom dollar that the terrorists will be waiting for that date and attacking and launching their biggest attacks” on Iraqi civilians and government institutions, Samir Sumaidaie told CNN Late Edition television news show host Wolf Blitzer.

The Defense Department’s emergency fiscal 2007 supplemental requests includes $93.4 billion to help fund U.S. forces in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere in the global war on terror. The U.S. House of Representatives passed a defense funding bill that requires U.S. combat troops to depart Iraq by Aug. 31, 2008, and also includes some domestic spending measures.

Iraqi soldiers and police are stepping up and “taking charge,” Sumaidaie said, as part of Operation Law and Order, the U.S., coalition and Iraqi security forces’ campaign targeting insurgents and terrorists operating in Baghdad and al Anbar province in western Iraq.

In fact, Iraqi security forces recently conducted some major arrests of terrorists in Mosul and Basra, he said.

Yet, it’s too soon to withdraw American forces from Iraq while the terrorists “are really feeling the pinch” due to Operation Law and Order, the ambassador emphasized.

“Now, we’re in this together. We’ve got to come out of it together,” Sumaidaie declared.

Iraqis do appreciate all that the United States has done for them, Sumaidaie said, noting that while Iraqis wish that the violence in their country would someday end, they understand why the United States’ military is in Iraq.

Al Qaeda terrorists and other violent groups in Iraq continue to attack innocent Iraqi citizens, soldiers and police, well as U.S. servicemembers, he noted.

“Get al Qaeda to stop attacking us and get al Qaeda to say that they will not attack the United States. They will not,” Sumaidaie pointed out. “And, as long as our civilians and your civilians are in danger we have to keep going until we defeat them.”