"If we get them out now in an unconsidered and sudden withdrawal, then
what happened in the Gulf of Aden will happen in the Arabian Gulf too,"
Jassim said. "Pirates will start in these ports in a way you can't even
Jassim and other officials have been briefing parliament on the need to
ratify the Status of Forces Agreement with the United States. The accord
envisioned a U.S. military presence until at least the end of 2011.
By June 2009, U.S. troops were expected to withdraw from cities to
military bases. The Iraq Army has more than 230,000 soldiers, and Jassim
said a premature U.S. withdrawal could spark unrest throughout Iraq.
"I take into account all prospects, including expansion of attacks to
the depth of the Iraqi territories," Jassim said.
said the U.S. military would also help in training, air and naval missions as
well as weapons procurement.
Parliament was scheduled to vote on the accord by Nov. 27. Pro-Iranian
members of the 275-seat parliament have sought to delay the vote.
Hours after Jassim's news conference, parliament, in a six-hour session,
concluded the first reading of the U.S. security draft. Iraqi parliamentary
speaker Mahmoud Mashhadani said the accord would be submitted for a vote
once a consensus has been reached.
The defense minister warned that the government would declare a state of
emergency if the agreement was not ratified. Jassim raised the prospect that
the United States would unilaterally withdraw its 150,000 soldiers from
"The failure to sign the pact will lead to options worse than the
planned agreement, such as a possible surprise pullout of the forces,"
Jassim said. "In that case, the Defense Ministry would declare a state of
emergency to keep the situation under control."