BAGHDAD, Oct. 26 (UPI) -- Iraqi forces and its people have the resolve needed to keep al-Qaida at bay once U.S. forces leave at the end of the year, the deputy prime minister said.
U.S. President Barack Obama announced last week that all forces still deployed in Iraq would be home by the end of the year. Around 100 or so would stay behind, however, to protect the U.S. Embassy.
Obama left the door open for possible training missions, though a deal to extend the American troop presence collapsed after Baghdad refused to offer immunity to U.S. military personnel.
Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Rowsch Nuri Shaways told al-Arabiya that, while some units of the fledgling Iraqi military might need training and equipment, his forces could handle national security matters.
"Iraqi troops are morally and technically ready to face terrorism and all other internal challenges," he said. "Special forces have been trained and armed for this purpose."
Critics like anti-American cleric Moqtada Sadr said Washington would likely maintain an occupation force in Iraq through private military contractors.
Shaways said Iraq would maintain a strong military relationship with the United States through conventional channels, however.
"We have decided to deal directly with the country that is to provide us with weapons rather than do that through intermediaries or companies," he said.