U.S. Says Cannot Force Iraqis to Agree Government
June 21, 2010
LONDON (Reuters) - Iraqi politicians must agree among themselves on forming a new government and the United States cannot tell them what to do, the U.S. ambassador to Baghdad said on Monday.
Iraqis hoped the March 7 election would bring stability as the United States prepares to end combat operations in August before a full troop pullout by the end of 2011.
Instead, weeks of sniping and challenges to the result have exposed the growing pains of Iraq's nascent democracy, with the chief factions at loggerheads over who will lead the government.
Christopher Hill, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, said a lot of people had asked why the United States did not simply tell the Iraqis what to do.
But he said this had not happened in 2006, when a government of national unity was cobbled together by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki after long negotiations and the United States was playing a more influential role.
"So it's rather mystifying to me why people think I can go in and tell Prime Minister Maliki 'you either make a coalition with him or you get out', this sort of thing. It's not going to work," he said, speaking at London's Chatham House think-tank.
No party won the parliamentary election outright. A cross-sectarian alliance heavily backed by minority Sunnis came out two seats ahead of Maliki's Shi'ite-led State of Law coalition, which has since linked with another Shi'ite bloc.
Despite the difficulties, Hill said he believed Iraqi politicians would succeed in forming a new government.
"They are going to have to figure out their way forward," he said. "We will do all we can to help ... but we cannot tell the Iraqis how to form their own government."
Bloodshed has risen since the election, dashing Iraqis' hopes of stability seven years after the U.S.-led invasion to topple Saddam Hussein. Nevertheless, Hill said the United States would stand by its commitment to withdraw its forces next year.
"It's very important that Iraqis understand that we signed a security agreement and we will live up to that security agreement 100 percent," he said.
(Reporting by Adrian Croft; editing by Peter Graff)http://abcnews.go.co...ory?id=10974803