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Politics causing delays in Iraq

Aug. 22, 2011 at 12:18 PM
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BAGHDAD, Aug. 22 (UPI) -- Decisions by the Iraqi prime minister to assume responsibility of key ministries in his administration are causing political delays, a U.S. official said.

Iraq has experienced an increase in violence as the Dec. 31 deadline for a U.S. military withdrawal draws closer. Baghdad, however, hasn't filled the Interior and Defense ministries and U.S. Army Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan, a spokesman for U.S. military forces in Iraq, said that's one of the reasons for the country's security woes.

"This has affected the security situation and the daily operations of both ministries," he was quoted by London's pan-Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat as saying.

Buchanan added some of the decisions made by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki were getting in the way of progress in negotiating the U.S. troop withdrawal.

U.S. forces are set to leave under the terms of a bilateral status of forces agreement signed in 2008. Baghdad can negotiate an extension, however.

Buchanan said leadership is needed in the Interior and Defense Ministries in order to move the country forward.

"This is imperative," he added.

A series of attacks and bombings last week killed at least 89 people. Iraqi officials blamed national security forces in part for the attacks.

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