BAGHDAD, Feb. 6 (UPI) -- Drastic action is needed to upgrade Iraqi security forces, the country's Sunni Arab vice president says.
Tariq al-Hashimi made the comments to CNN in the wake of a series of Friday car bombings killed at least 32 people in Karbala and the capital Baghdad, with more than 100 dying in attacks on pilgrims this week.
"Time is running out quickly," Al-Hashimi told CNN, referencing the U.S. goal to withdraw from the country by the end of 2011, with U.S. combat forces scheduled to leave by August of this year.
"What we need from now until December 2011 is help for Iraqi forces and for security to be upgraded so they can fill the vacuum when American troops pull out eventually in December 2011," al-Hashimi said, adding that he is worried that members of sectarian militias have infiltrated the Iraqi security forces.
Al-Hashimi told the U.S. broadcaster, however, that he's optimistic about the prospects for the upcoming March elections, saying, "Everybody now says the majority of all people are in fact talking in nationalistic language, which is very good. And if you check the political agenda, you will see no differences whatsoever in fact on sectarian or ethnic (issues)."