Iraq Press Roundup

By HIBA DAWOOD, UPI Correspondent  |  Dec. 3, 2007 at 4:28 PM
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The Kurdish Al Ahali newspaper carried an editorial Monday with the headline "Are U.S. military bases in Iraq going to replace those in the region?"

The paper said with the fast-approaching deadline set by U.N. Security Council Resolution 1723, calling for a withdrawal of Multi-National forces by Dec. 31, diplomatic activity between the powers that sat up the resolution and the U.S. administration are ongoing.

The paper said Iraqi President Jalal Talabani has discussed with U.S. officials the nature of future strategic relations between Iraq and the United States.

"During the negotiations that took place in Baghdad, President Talabani reassured his support to build a long-term strategic relationship with the U.S.," it said.

The paper said that Iraqi Vice President Adil Abdul Mehdi will meet with U.S. officials in Washington in January to discuss the future of the U.S. military in Iraq. It also said that Second Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi said while in Qatar that "Iraq had the biggest U.S. military base in the Gulf and that the construction of other military bases continues."

"The International Research Institute, supposed to be identified as a nongovernmental organization, published this month a report on the new map of U.S. bases around the world, stating that in 2002 there were 255,065 U.S. troops in several foreign countries whereas today there are 325,000 troops distributed in North America, Latin America, Europe, the Middle East, Middle Asia, Japan, Indonesia, and the Philippines," It said.

The editorial said that the report states that the United States has built 20 military bases in Iraq at a cost of $1.1 billion, which reveals the U.S. plan to keep permanent bases in Iraq.

"Al-Qaida's continuous attacks since 2001 has brought unexpected development that the U.S. has been using in its excuses to strain the situation in the Middle East and the world," the paper said.

The editorial concluded that the Iraqi government and national powers are setting up a timetable for the withdrawal of foreign troops and refusing any form of any U.S. bases in Iraq -- temporary or permanent.

Al Shabab newspaper in an editorial Monday said the visit to Iraq of U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte reveals many issues.

"The most obvious issue the visit shows is that the U.S. considers the security situation as the key to deal with Iraqis at this stage and in the future," it said.

It said that when Negroponte is in Baghdad, he would have to deal with two of the main Iraqi points of view in order to discuss issues such as the oil, reconciliation and governorate laws.

What is important in the visit is that it comes after the Iraqi-U.S. cooperation and friendship initiative. Iraqis had demanded that the measure contain an article related to reconciliation and fighting corruption, calling for an amendment to the constitution. It said the agreement promised to support taking into consideration the will of the Iraqi people.

"There is no doubt that Negroponte came to Iraq armed with the idea of security improvement that the Mesopotamian land has signaled by hundreds of Iraqis returning to their homes," the paper said.

It said it is easy to conclude Negroponte carries many letters that Iraqis are capable of reading and dealing with accurately.

The most important message Negroponte brought with him is security is the main mission, and that factions that form the Iraqi government are not eternal.

"Negroponte gave Iraqis the message that no matter what confronts the Iraqi political process, the U.S. administration will support Iraqis to build a beautiful democratic country," it said.

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