Prime Minister Maliki speaks to Washington Post

Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki recently sat down with the Washington Post’s Loveday Morris in Baghdad to discuss the government's strategy to fight al-Qaeda in Anbar province, in addition to providing an overview on military cooperation with the United States.

Prime Minister Maliki called on Iraqis to unite in their efforts to fight al-Qaeda and urged greater support from the international community. The Prime Minister also emphasized the government’s commitment to ensuring that parliamentary elections are held on time.

The Prime Minister discussed the government’s strategy to ending the presence of al-Qaeda and bringing security back to the province of Anbar. H.E. said that local tribesmen are primarily responsible for fighting al-Qaeda and would be backed by counterterrorism forces in areas where they require assistance. Prime Minister Maliki emphasized the role of the Sons of Iraq, saying that they would play a key role in securing their provinces. He further pledged to increase services and infrastructure in areas that have been particularly plagued by the presence of terrorist groups.

Prime Minister Maliki described relations with the United States as friendly and strategic, noting the collaboration on intelligence sharing to locate al-Qaeda hideouts in Iraq. The Prime Minister reiterated that Iraq does not require an American military presence on the ground; but said that more military hardware was required and that Iraq would request training for Iraqi counterterrorism units from the United States.

The Prime Minister accused al-Qaeda of attempting to foment sectarian tensions but asserted that there was no place for sectarianism in Iraq.

Read the full interview here.