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Washington, D.C., March 31, 2009 – A leading Iraqi parliamentarian, speaking today at the Voice of America (VOA), said Iraq faces challenges creating permanent improvements in security when U.S. troops leave the country.
"I hope the withdrawal would be in a way that would make the situation better," said Mahmoud Ali Othman, a Kurdish political leader and member of the Iraqi National Assembly. "Everyone likes the withdrawal (but) … in a way that will not leave so many problems behind."
President Obama's timetable calls for an end to the U.S. combat mission in August 2010, with U.S. troops quitting Iraq by 2011. The current 142,000 troops would decline to between 35,000 and 50,000 by August 2010.
Othman said the security situation in Iraq has improved, but the Iraqi military needs additional training and equipment. Real improvement in Iraq will occur when "the citizen says that…his daily life has improved." Othman said Iraq faces challenges like corruption and the need for political reform and reconciliation.
Asked whether former President Bush was correct to say that history would vindicate him on the decision to invade Iraq in 2003, Othman said the results have been mixed. "President Bush … did a good job by ending Saddam Hussein's regime. That was a disaster, the Saddam Hussein regime."
But the United States lacked a clear policy to deal with Iraq after the invasion. "We hope that, at the end, we will reach an era which will be good for [Iraq's] people, good for its neighbors, and as democratic and as stable as possible."
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VOA will broadcast stories on the discussion with Othman on several of its 45 language services, including the Turkish and Kurdish Services (www.VOANews.com/Turkish and www.VOANews.com/Kurdish).
Othman was in Washington to attend the Kurdish National Congress (KNC) conference.
The Voice of America, which first went on the air in 1942, is a multimedia international broadcasting service funded by the U.S.Government through the Broadcasting Board of Governors. VOA broadcasts approximately 1,500 hours of news, information, educational, and cultural programming every week to an estimated worldwide audience of more than 134 million people. Programs are produced in 45 languages.
For more information, call VOA Public Relations at (202) 203-4959, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.