Iraqi Forces to Take Full Responsibility by End of Year

Despite the fact that Coalition forces were responsible for security in all 18 of Iraq’s provinces a month ago and only one of those has yet to be handed over, Iraq’s president has announced that Iraqi forces will take full control by the end of the year.

President Jalal Talabani said Wednesday that Iraqi forces will take over security in all provinces in the country by the end of the year. U.S. forces currently are responsible for security in 17 of Iraq’s 18 provinces. The optimistic statement by Talabani comes at a time when the country is reeling under intense sectarian violence, mainly involving Shiite and Sunni militias. On Tuesday, more than 70 people were killed in one of the worst days of bloodshed.

Talabani, a Kurd from northern Iraq, said the government is confident of vanquishing terrorism. “We are highly optimistic that we will terminate terrorism in this year… the multinational forces’ role is a supportive one and the Iraqi forces will take over security in all Iraqi provinces by the end of this year gradually and God’s will, we will take the lead,” he said. “The terrorists fear the unity of the Iraqi people,” he said. “Our armed forces are doing well, but we expect more from them.”

Much of the recent sectarian violence has occurred in the capital Baghdad, and many lawmakers have called for replacing the interior minister over the government’s inability to stop the almost daily bombings, drive-by shootings and executions after abductions.


“Terminating terrorism cannot be achieved through military force … we need a comprehensive plan and we started by launching the national reconciliation campaign as part of this work,” Talabani said.

While I support the concept of Iraqi forces taking the lead sooner rather than later, this seems more than “optimistic” coming in August. And defeating the terrorists in the next five months simply isn’t going to happen.

FILED UNDER: Terrorism, Uncategorized, ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. DC Loser says:

    A more cynical read of this could mean that Talibani is pushing for balkanization of Iraq. Being the leader of the KDP, he has the best organized militia in the Pesh Merga, and currently the Kurds are trying to consolidate their hold in the north and around the oil producing region around Kirkuk. They are much better organized than the Shiite militias and the Kurds have no interest in the security situation outside of their area. They probably would just leave the Shiites and Sunnis to their own devices and clamp down in their own sector.

  2. Anderson says:

    Hey, who elected a Democrat as president of Iraq?

    Do we have to invade for “regime change” again?

  3. McGehee says:

    Hey, who elected a Democrat as president of Iraq?

    Do we have to invade for “regime change” again?

    Which just goes to show that not everyone can “do” snark.

  4. legion says:

    Those tratorious Iraqis! How dare they support cut-and-run policies!

    Seriously tho – I’m not very optimistic either, but this sort of ‘drawing a line in the sand’ noise (especially from the Iraqis) is a critical – and promising – step.

  5. LJD says:

    You haven’t been paying attention, Legion. Cut and run is pulling out regardless of the progress of security forces.
    Talabani proposes transfer of responsibility to Iraqi forces, which has been the plan all along.

  6. madmatt says:

    Yes we will pull out, except for the permanent bases, the worlds largest “embassy”, and the troops needed to “maintain stability” in the region. Another 30K troops should cover our basic needs.

  7. legion says:

    Cut and run is pulling out regardless of the progress of security forces.

    Well, I was being at least half-snarky, but by setting a firm date of end-of-06, without reference to the readiness of his forces, hasn’t Talibani done exactly that?

  8. James Joyner says:

    Legion: While I get the snark, I’m not sure how “cut-and-run” could be applied to Iraqis who, presumably, are there for the duration by definition.

  9. LJD says:

    The firm date refers to the Iraqis taking over responsibility, not total U.S. withdrawal. If successful, this is a step in the right direction for eventual withdrawal.

    However, it absolutely does not send the message to the terrorists to ‘wait it out’ (as would cut and run). They will still very likely have to bear the consequences their actions, U.S. force in support of Iraqis, regardless of who is ‘responsible’.

  10. Would the commentary have been any different if Talabani had said the end of 2008?

  11. Anderson says:

    Which just goes to show that not everyone can “do” snark.

    Win some, lose some.

  12. legion says:

    Ah, it seems my interpretation of Talibani’s statement was getting ahead of the game… yes, it appears there is a difference between Iraq taking over and US forces bugging out. Again, tho it’s a very good step for them to be taking, I’m still very leery about their ability to back it up.