Iraq President Lashes Out at US Occupation
Yahoo News/AFP
March 29, 2007

RIYADH (AFP) - Iraqi President Jalal Talabani said on Thursday that the US-led invasion of his country four years ago had turned into an occupation with dire consequences for Iraq.

Talabani, a member of the Kurdish minority, which has been largely insulated from the violence and devastation visited on other parts of the country since Saddam Hussein fell, was addressing the Arab summit in the Saudi capital.

"The decision to turn the liberation of Iraq into an occupation ... with the dire consequences this had internally and the fears (it aroused) in Arab, regional and international arenas, all this was contrary to what Iraqi parties and national forces were planning at the time," he said.

"This applies equally to many hasty decisions and measures taken by the occupation's civil administration without understanding the Iraqis' point of view and the consequences they had on the situation in the country and the political process as a whole," he said.

"The policies pursued in the wake of the overthrow of the former regime, and the weakness of the international response to the will of the political forces who rallied to rebuild the new Iraq, stymied our early quest to broaden popular participation in order to ... establish security and stability and confront the challenges of sabotage, chaos and terrorism as quickly as possible and with the least human and material losses."

Talabani did not spell out the mistakes he was referring to, but the US-run civil administration installed after Saddam's fall has been widely criticised for taking decisions that have made the situation worse.

Particularly were the disbanding of the Saddam regime's army and the banning of the former dictator's Baath party. That left tens of thousands of military personnel and civilian officials and bureaucrats without jobs, fueling an insurgency among the minority Sunni community from which most of them came.

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