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Iraks nasjonale sikkerhetsrådgiver sier regjeringen ikke greier å holde fristen om å overta sikkerheten fra amerikanerne innen utgangen av året. Hva verre er: Mouffak al-Rubaie greier ikke å sette noen frist overhodet.

Utalelsen til Rubaie kom på det mest ugunstige tidspunkt for Bush, som er beleiret i Kongressen, i økende grad også av sine egne. Antydninger om at irakerne ikke vil gjøre jobben, vil ventelig få mange til å se rødt. Det kan oppfattes som utpressing.

Samtidig kommer meldinger om at færre irakiske brigader er kampklare enn innmeldt: bare seks mot tidligere ti. Det viser at opplæringsprogrammene til amerikanerne ikke fungerer. Irakerne kan ikke eller vil ikke. Hvor lang tid skal det så ta? Skal amerikanerne fortsette å dø og amerikanske skattebetalere fortsette å betale? Det er spørsmålene man stiller seg i Washington og Rubaie må være umusikalsk som sier det på den måten han gjør.

n April, al-Maliki said Iraqi soldiers and police would take over security responsibility from U.S. and other international forces in all 18 provinces by the end of 2007, allowing the American-led coalition to shift into a support role and possibly begin sending troops home.

«We had hopes and intentions to take over security in all provinces and command of all army divisions before the end of the year,» national security adviser Mouwaffak al-Rubaie told The Associated Press. «But there are difficulties and challenges that appeared along the way, in arming, equipping, recruiting and training our armed forces.»

Al-Rubaie would not give a new deadline.

«I think it is very difficult to predict a certain time,» he said. «This depends on the speed of training and equipping. This depends on the level of threat whether regional or local. But we are not talking about weeks, or not even months. More than months.»

U.S. military officials have been signaling for weeks that improvements in Iraqi security forces had not lived up to expectations — especially in the national police, which is widely believed to be infiltrated by Shiite militiamen.

On Friday, Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, who commands U.S. troops south of Baghdad, said it would take until the summer of 2008 to consolidate recent gains in his area, which controls land routes into the capital from the east and south.

Last week, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Peter Pace, said the number of combat-ready Iraqi battalions able to fight independently has dropped from 10 to six in recent months despite an increase in U.S. training efforts.


Iraq official casts doubt on takeover