On Sept. 1, the U.S. military, with fewer than 50,000 troops, ended its
combat mission in Iraq. Over the next 16 months, the military will be
limited to training and logistics in Iraq.
Officials did not rule out the prospect that Al Maliki would quietly ask
the U.S. military to resume combat operations, Middle East Newsline reported. But they acknowledged that
any formal request would encounter harsh opposition from parliament.
"We call on the nation to have open eyes to monitor the movements of
those terrorists and keep such criminal gangs from halting the progress of
our nation," Al Maliki said.
The United States has sought to calm Iraqi fears over the military
pullout. Over the last three days, Vice President Joseph Biden and Defense
Secretary Robert Gates arrived in Iraq for high-level consultations as well
as a review of military requirements until the complete withdrawal in late
Publicly, Iraqi leaders insisted that they would no longer need direct
U.S. combat support in the war against Al Qaida. They said both the Iraqi
military and security forces, which total around 700,000, could conduct
independent operations throughout the country.
"Iraqi troops are going forward and shall not be stopped by terrorist
attacks, especially with the growing public cooperation with security
forces," President Jalal Talabani said.