Officials said the U.S. military has expressed concern that the failure
to establish an Iraqi government could harm security. They said the military
and security forces need a stable political leadership to draft and
"They must exercise their constitutional responsibilities and form a
government without delay," President Barack Obama said on July 22.
[On July 22, at least two people were injured in a rocket attack that
targeted the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, Middle East Newsline reported. The Katyusha rocket was said to have
landed in the Green Zone near the U.S. embassy, the second such attack in
Obama's statement came after a U.S. military assessment warned of the consequences of the absence of a ruling coalition in
Baghdad. In a briefing on July 21, U.S. military commander Gen. Ray Odierno
said he would be concerned if the stalemate between Prime Minister Nouri Al
Maliki and his challenger, Iyad Alawi, was not resolved by October 2010.
"So I would be concerned if there's not a government formed by October
or so — I would start to have some concern," Odierno said.
"There's uneasiness in Iraq because of how long it's taking," Odierno,
who said Iran was increasing its influence in Baghdad, said. "But there has
not been any degradation in security and stability."
Odierno said Iraq's military and security forces have hurt Al Qaida
operations. He said the network has been severed from its leadership in
Pakistan, with Iraqi security forces steadily rounding up insurgents in
central and northern Iraq.
"There has been steady, deliberate progress across all lines," Odierno
said. "There's clearly more to do, but a new baseline has been established."
On July 20, four Al Qaida detainees escaped a Baghdad prison which had been handed over
by the U.S. military. The four had been awaiting trial on charges linked
with insurgency attacks.
"This [Al Qaida] is a very thinking enemy," Odierno said. "They change
how they do things, and we have to react to that."
Maj. Gen. Stephen Lanza, director for strategic effects for U.S.
Forces-Iraq, agreed that Baghdad must resolve its political crisis to
preserve security gains over the last two years. He said Iraq must urgently
install a new government "so it can move ahead in serving its citizens."
Iraq has reported its military and police totals 660,000 personnel.
Officials said the Baghdad government has assessed that it could assume full
security responsibility in Iraq by 2011.
"Iraqi forces need another four months to complete readiness and take
over the security file in full," Iraqi Interior Minister Jawad Bolani said.