Iraqis warn against hasty withdrawal
BY BASSEM MROUE Associated Press
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
Baghdad says Turkey
has amassed troops
for a possible
BAGHDAD -- Iraqi leaders
warned Monday the country
could collapse if American
troops leave too quickly as
pressure mounts in Washington to draw down U.S. combat
forces. More threats to Iraqi
stability could be looming to
the north with Turkish forces
gathering in a possible prelude to a cross-border attack
against Kurdish rebels.
Iraq's foreign minister said
Turkey has massed 140,000
soldiers near Iraq -- a figure
immediately disputed by the
Bush administration, which
said satellite photos indicated
no such buildup. Nevertheless, Turkey has been deploying troops on the border for
several months, and the country's foreign minister said last
week that the government and
military had agreed on detailed plans for a cross-border
The White House said President Bush is not considering
a withdrawal of U.S. forces
from Iraq now despite an erosion of support among Republicans for his war policy.
Iraq's foreign minister
warned that a speedy U.S. military withdrawal could lead to
all-out civil war, the collapse of
the government and spread
conflict across the Middle
"We have held discussion
with members of Congress
and explained to them the
dangers of a quick pullout and leaving a security vacuum,"
Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari told reporters. "The dangers could be a civil war, dividing the country, regional wars
and the collapse of the state."
That sentiment was echoed
by leading political figures
from the Sunni Arab community, the group that had been
the least supportive of the U.S.
presence following the collapse of Saddam Hussein's
"A hasty withdrawal . . .
would lead to a crisis that
would obliterate all the positive aspects of the U.S. troop
deployment," said Salim Abdullah, spokesman for the largest Sunni Arab bloc in parliament.
Sunni legislator Adnan al-Dulaimi said a quick U.S. departure would "destroy Iraq"
and that the American presence was necessary to "keep a
balance between Iraqi sects"
after the wave of Shiite-Sunni
reprisal killings which
plunged the country to the
brink of all-out civil war last
Adding to security concerns, Zebari said 140,000
Turkish soldiers have massed
at Iraq's northern border,
where the rebel Kurdistan
Workers Party, or PKK, has
bases and launches attacks on
The Turkish military had no
comment on Zebari's remarks, and it was unclear
where he got the figures.
In Washington, State Department spokesman Sean
McCormack said there was "a
substantial presence" of Turkish troops engaged in counterterrorism operations in southeast Turkey near Iraq, and
that such a deployment was
not unusual when the PKK traditionally goes on the offensive in the spring. He also expressed skepticism about the 140,000 figure.
Violence in Baghdad on
Monday left 38 people dead,
police said. North of the capital, a roadside bomb hit a bus
carrying Iraqi soldiers, killing
from a car bomb
that injured a
woman in the