Stephen Hadley says Iraq pullout bad for Israel
* Iraq asks UN to let US-led force stay in 2006
WASHINGTON: US President George W Bush’s national security adviser warned Monday that a hasty US withdrawal from Iraq would embolden extremists who seek “the eventual destruction of Israel”.
In remarks prepared for delivery to the annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) summit, Stephen Hadley said building democracy where Saddam Hussein’s regime once stood would help that staunch US ally.
“If freedom prevails in Iraq, others in the region - including Syria and Iran - will be under greater pressure to open up their repressive political systems. And that is good news for Israel,” said Hadley.
“For Israel should not be condemned, in the name of stability, to live in a region where despots threaten to ‘wipe them off the map’,” he said, quoting comments by hardline Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
“The spread of democracy will make the Middle East a safer neighborhood for Israel. An American retreat from Iraq, on the other hand, would only strengthen the terrorists who seek the enslavement of Iraq and the eventual destruction of Israel,” said Hadley.
The White House released Hadley’s remarks as prepared for delivery via satellite to AIPAC’s national summit in Los Angeles.
Meanwhile, Iraq asked the UN Security Council on Monday to let a US-led multinational force remain in Iraq for another year, acknowledging its own troops could not yet assure national security.
The request came in a letter to the 15-nation council from Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari.
“This means that basically the mandate and the status of the multinational force will be discussed in the coming weeks so that from January 1, 2006, we will have a consistent military presence in Iraq as happened in the past,” Mihai-Razvan Ungureanu, the foreign minister of Romania, the Security Council president for October, told reporters.
The multinational force’s current mandate expires at the end of this year, under a resolution approved by the council in June 2004, when the US-led Coalition Provisional Authority turned over Iraq’s administration to an interim government.
Extending the mandate through the end of 2006 will require the council to adopt a new resolution in the next two months.
Jaafari said the government in Baghdad wanted the right to terminate the mandate before the end of 2006 if it decided to do so. He also asked the council to agree to review the new mandate eight months after its approval or at any other time if asked to do so by Baghdad.
“The Iraqi national security forces, which are increasing in size, capability and experience day after day, need more time to complete their ranks, training and equipment in order to take over the primary responsibility of providing adequate security for Iraqis,” Jaafari wrote. Under the political timetable set out in the June 2004 resolution, Iraqis are to elect a government by Dec. 31 now that the new constitution has been approved in an Oct. 15 referendum. Parliamentary elections have been set for Dec. 15.
There are now about 175,000 soldiers in the multinational force, including about 150,000 from the United States. reuters