No Deadlines on Iraq Sectarianism: Bush

While the Iraqi people were caught up in an astonishing spiral of violence on Monday, October 16, US President George W. Bush assured Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki the US had not set any deadline for his government to control sectarian violence.

No Deadlines on Iraq Sectarianism: Bush

"He said he was worried about a report that said we were giving him two months," White House spokesman Tony Snow told reporters, referring to a 15-minute phone call between Bush and Maliki.

Maliki brought up the timetable question with Bush, citing reports about "attempts to replace him" if certain conditions weren't met by a certain time.

"The president said, 'the rumors are not true; we support you,' " Snow told reporters.

Snow said Maliki wanted to make clear to Bush that "talk of giving timetables or expiration dates or whatever to the government were not only undermining the government, but also inspiring terrorists."

The Iraqi people were caught up in an astonishing spiral of violence Monday, battered by bombs and stalked by death squads.

At least 49 people were killed and 67 bodies found in Baghdad Monday, as sectarian bloodletting raged across the country.

As night fell in the capital and Muslims gathered to break their fast, two massive car bombs detonated in a mainly Shiite suburb, scattering 20 bloodied corpses in the streets.

Further north, a brutal wave of sectarian slaughter gripped districts around the town of Balad, where hospital staff reported receiving 80 corpses, mainly Sunni villagers gunned down by Shiite death squads.

The uptick in violence has been accompanied by a steady increase in military casualties.

On Monday alone seven more deaths were announced, bringing the total number slain in October so far to 57, three weeks ahead of November's midterm elections.


The White House spokesman stressed that while Bush expressed confidence in Maliki, he made it clear that the level of violence was "absolutely unacceptable."

He said Bush "believes the prime minister is doing everything in his power" to stem the country's raging violence.

"It's obvious that more needs to be done given the way the violence is being perpetrated," Snow said.

There have been reports of a growing impatience within the Bush administration about the progress the Maliki government is making.

Republican Senator John Warner, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told reporters earlier this month that the US would have to rethink its strategy in Iraq if the violence is not brought under control in the next 90 days.

"I think it's a responsibility of our government internally to determine, is there a change of course that we should take?" said Warner, who until recently had been a strong backer of Bush administration policy in Iraq.

"I wouldn't take off the table any option at this time," said Warner.

The lawmaker cited "an exponential increase in the killings and savagery" and expressed concern that the situation in Iraq was "simply drifting sideways."

Another Republican senator, Chuck Hagel, a Vietnam veteran and strong supporter of the US military, has echoed a similar bitter disappointment with the ongoing Iraq violence.

"We are going to have to find a new strategy," he said.

Sadr Orders

Sadr called on his Mahdi Army fighters to stop driving people from their homes.

In another sectarianism-related development, Shiite leader Moqtada al-Sadr called on his followers Monday to stop driving people from their homes.

"They should forbid the forced displacement of either our brother Shiites or Sunnis, but naturally this should be done through peaceful and political means in coordination with political bodies," he directed his Mahdi Army.

Sadr is the founder of the Mahdi Army, one of the most powerful militias in the country.

He also told them to "exert their efforts to return the Sunnis and Shiites who have been displaced to their homes".

In recent months black-clad fighters claiming allegiance to the Mahdi Army have been accused of running sectarian death squads.

On Friday he issued a statement saying that if the rumors about his followers taking part in such killings were true, he would denounce them.

Over 300,000 Iraqis have fled their homes in the orgy of violence and intimidation between the Sunni and Shiite communities in the country.

US commanders now cite Shiite militias as the biggest single threat to the stability of Iraq and warn that they are awaiting the green light from Maliki to launch an operation to clear Sadr City of gunmen.

Maliki has refused to give such a green light, saying that it will take several months to even begin to disarm the powerful Shiite militias.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16