Gen Abizaid for Pakistani, Turkish peacekeepers in Iraq
* Military aspects crucial, Pakistan tells UN
* Erdogan backs troops for Iraq
BAGHDAD: America’s top military man in Iraq said on Friday said he favoured seeing peacekeepers from countries like Turkey and Pakistan and accelerating the training of a new Iraqi army to counter the image of a US-dominated occupation.
General John Abizaid’s comments came after a British soldier was killed in southern Iraq and more US troops wounded as resistance to the US-led occupation continued unabated five months after the fall of Saddam Hussein.
However Abizaid said he wanted more Muslim peacekeepers and better intelligence rather than US troop reinforcements to tackle the hit-and-run attacks still plaguing coalition forces. European countries opened debate on helping with the peacekeeping effort after Washington said it might hand some responsibilities over to the United Nations.
He said both issues would be discussed during a major strategy review by top US military and civilian officials in Baghdad next week. “We’ve got to get more of an Iraqi face on the security establishment and we need to have more international participation in the international coalition force,” US Central Command chief Abizaid told The New York Times.
His comments came amid a growing realization in the United States that rebuilding Iraq will be more difficult and more costly than had been foreseen and that more US troops may be needed to improve all-round security.
France, Germany, India, Russia and other countries have so far refused US pleas for troops unless they can serve under the UN flag.
Meanwhile, Pakistan told the United Nations on Thursday that the military aspects of peacekeeping was crucial as they were to be augment a host of tasks aimed to ensure that a fragile peace becomes a permanent one. “These include not just peace enforcement but also the facilitation of humanitarian assistance, disarmament, demobilisation, reintegration, support for the rule of law, electoral assistance, even the monitoring of human rights violations, and creating the necessary environment for economic reconstruction,” the permanent Representative of Pakistan to the UN, Ambassador Munir Akram, said in his policy statement.
In authorising a peacekeeping mandate, he said the Security Council needed to provide “a clear, realistic and achievable mandate”. “This mandate must be fulfilled before the withdrawal of any peacekeeping mission. My delegation has consistently cautioned, both inside this council and outside, against any premature withdrawal of any peacekeeping mission - regardless of any political or financial considerations.” In Ankara Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday he backed the sending of troops to Iraq to help the US-led coalition restore security in the increasingly unstable country. —AFP/APP