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Iraq VP: Iraqi occupation was idiotic
Middle East Online
January 25, 2007

Adel Abdel Mahdi says plan to stifle violence in Baghdad could work, claims Iraq is not in grip of civil war.

DAVOS, Switzerland - The US-led occupation of Iraq after Saddam Hussein was toppled was an "idiot" decision, Iraqi Vice President Adel Abdel Mahdi said Thursday during the World Economic Forum here.

However, Mahdi cautioned that winning the "war" in Baghdad, where US troop levels have recently been reinforced, would be crucial to ending the spiral of violence in the country.

The Shiite vice president's comments came just a day after the influential US Senate Foreign Relations committee rejected President George W. Bush's plan to send an additional 21,500 troops to Iraq.

The Committee, whose recommendation is not binding but is certain to hamper its passage through the Democrat-controlled Congress, voted 12-9 on a no-confidence resolution slamming the US president's plan as "not in the national interest."

"Iraqis and Iraq had been put under occupation, which was an idiot decision," the Shiite vice president said in a debate, while cataloguing mistakes accumulated by all sides -- US and Iraqi -- over the past four years.

Mahdi told the meeting of political and business leaders in the Swiss resort of Davos that the plan to stifle violence in Baghdad could work

"If we can win this war in Baghdad, I think we can change the course of events," he said.

But Mahdi, who outlined plans for a near impermeable security ring around the capital, cautioned that Iraqi troop numbers also needed to be boosted in Baghdad, not only those of the US-led coalition in Iraq.

"As Iraqis, we need more troops in Baghdad. These are Iraqi troops. It's up to multinational forces to decide," Mahdi told the meeting of political and business leaders.

The Iraqi vice president insisted that more Iraqi regiments should be moved from other parts of the country into the capital.

More US forces were sent to Iraq recently mainly to secure Baghdad, under a plan devised with the Iraqi government.

The Iraqi vice president rejected suggestions that his country was in the grip of a civil war.

"Some people say we are in a civil war. I don't agree with that," he said, adding that civilians were embroiled in "a war that targets the whole of society".

The Shiite vice president also pinpointed Iraq's regional environment as "one of the factors of violence in Iraq" and supported suggestions for a regional "round table".

"We need a regional environment where all countries should be partners," Mahdi explained.

"They should not interfere in the affairs of each other but they should use peaceful means to solve problems," he added, referring to Iraq's six neighbours, including Iran.

The Shiite community in Iraq is traditionally regarded as being close to neighbouring Iran.

The United States, which has repeatedly accused Iran of interfering in its neighbour's affairs, promised on Wednesday that it would soon release evidence of Iranian networks operating inside Iraq.

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