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U.S. troops out of Iraq within next 18 months? - Interior minister believes new government can handle security situation by mid 2006 (WND-WORLD NET DAILY) 01/30/05 9:28 p.m. Eastern)Source: http://www.wnd.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=42618 WND} WORLD NET DAILY WND} WORLD NET DAILY Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
U.S. troops stationed in Iraq could be out of the war-torn country by the middle of next year, if all goes well.

That according to Iraqi interim Interior Minister Falah al-Naqib, who told Britain´s Channel 4 News that coalition forces would likely not be necessary in a year and a half.

"I think we will not need the multinational, foreign forces, in this country within 18 months," al-Naqib said. "I think we will be able to depend on ourselves, if everything goes in the right direction.

"We are building our forces and I think we will need 18 months. It´s my estimate that we will have quite a reasonable-sized force, trained, well-trained force, well-equipped to protect the country. So I believe very much that we won´t need more than 18 months."

His optimism was tempered, though, by Iraqi national security adviser Mowaffak al-Rubaie, who told CNN he believes the U.S.-led force should remain in Iraq for "at least a couple of years" until Iraq´s security force is up to speed.

"Then and only then, we will ask the multinational forces to leave Iraq," he said. "Practically speaking, we need the multinational forces to stay in Iraq for the foreseeable future."

Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says American troops will remain in Iraq until the country´s forces can handle security on their own, adding there was no timetable for withdrawal.

"The coalition is there under a U.N. mandate to help the Iraqis because they´re not quite capable yet of carrying out their own security functions," Rice said on CNN´s "Late Edition." "But we are concentrating on training those forces."

Some 120,000 Iraqi security personnel – including over 50,000 police – have been trained, but Rice says many are not battle-tested.

"No one really knows how well they´re going to fight until they´re in a fight," she said.

On NBC´s "Meet the Press," Sen. John Kerry expressed dismay at the condition of the Iraqi forces.

"I´m appalled at the level of training that´s been taking place," the ex-presidential candidate said. "Other countries could be training them."

He also suggested the U.S. might wear out its welcome in the country.

"I wouldn´t be surprised if they even asked us to leave in some way over a period of time," he said. "I wouldn´t be surprised if the administration privately, behind closed doors, asked them to ask us to leave." (© 2005 WorldNetDaily.com, Inc. 01/30/05)

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