Iraqi Reactions to the Petraeus/ Crocker Testimony

The USG Open Source Center translates transcripts of Iraqi reactions to the testimony of Gen. David Petraeus and Ryan Crocker.

Iraqi TVs Carry Further Reporting, Commentary on Congressional Testimonies 11 Sep
Iraq — OSC Summary
Tuesday, September 11, 2007

This summary highlights select Iraqi TV reporting and commentary on the testimonies before Congress made by General David Petraeus, commander of the Multinational Force in Iraq, and US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker, in Washington on 10 September. It covers reports carried on: — Cairo Al-Rafidayn Satellite Channel in Arabic — Pro-Sunni, anti-US Iraqi channel believed to be affiliated with the Association of Muslim Scholars — Baghdad Baghdad Satellite Television in Arabic — television channel believed to be sponsored by the Iraqi Islamic Party — Cairo Al-Baghdadiyah Satellite Television in Arabic — Private Iraqi television known for its opposition to the US presence in Iraq — Baghdad Al-Furat Television Channel in Arabic — Television channel affiliated with the Shiite group, the Iraqi Islamic Supreme Council, led by Abd-al-Aziz al-Hakim — Al-Sulaymaniyah Al-Fayha Television in Arabic — A private, independent satellite channel that addresses Iraq-related issues, supervised by Muhammad al-Ta’i, an Iraqi media figure Al-Rafidayn Satellite Channel

Within its 1300 GMT newscast on 11 September, Al-Rafidayn Satellite Channel carries the following reports:

–”Incumbent National Security Adviser Muwaffaq al-Rubay’i has welcomed the reports submitted by the commander of the US occupation troops in Iraq and the occupying power’s ambassador, claiming that they were positive in general. Furthermore, he claimed that such assessment reports confirm the transparent handling and assessment of the situation, as he put it. For his part, Ali al-Dabbagh, spokesman for the incumbent government, said that the incumbent government would be comfortable with a gradual withdrawal of the US occupation troops as long as such plans are discussed with the government in Baghdad. He added: Any precipitous withdrawal would not be in the interest of any party; it would not be in the interest of Iraq or the region.”

Within its 1400 GMT newscast on 11 September, Al-Rafidayn Satellite Channel carries the following reports:

–”In his testimony before Congress, Gen David Petraeus, commander of the occupation troops in Iraq, has claimed that an early withdrawal from Iraq would be catastrophic. However, he recommended that an initial reduction of troops totaling 4,000 be implemented in December. For his part, Ryan Crocker, ambassador of the US occupying power to Iraq, warned that Iran would gain from a US withdrawal from Iraq, as this would allow it to consolidate its control of resources and perhaps territory in Iraq.”

This is followed by a commentary read by an unidentified Al-Rafidayn Satellite Channel correspondent, who says: “There is nothing new or unexpected in the reports submitted by US General David Petraeus and Ryan Crocker, ambassador of the occupying power, in the course of the false testimonies they made before Congress.” The commentary adds: “The paragraphs containing lies and the allegations made by the two US officials were the hallmarks of the theatrical show performed at a tumultuous session that was marked by disorder and chaos, which were pretty similar to the disorder and chaos the US occupation troops created in Iraq. Nonetheless, the Congress’s microphones in the state which considers itself the global policemen stubbornly remained silent for some time as if they were saying: Stop the lies and allegations. War General David Petraeus, commander of the occupation troops in Iraq, repeated the claim that the strategy of the occupiers in Iraq is largely achieving its military objectives.”

The commentary continues: “Despite the admission of failure seen every now and then, the US arrogance continued to demonstrate itself through the words of Petraeus, who alleged that it is possible to achieve the US objectives in Iraq as well as peace therein — the peace that has turned into a weird term in the lexicon of the Iraqis and their daily routine. Petraeus said that it is possible to achieve peace. He explicitly accused Iran of waging a proxy war on Iraqi territory through its support for militias and armed groups and aiding them, either through weapons supplies or training.”

The commentary says: “Ryan Crocker, the ambassador of the US occupying power, joined Petraeus by warning that Iran would gain from a US withdrawal from Iraq, and that if such a withdrawal were to be carried out, it would consolidate Iran’s control of resources, and maybe territory in Iraq. Crocker, who shared Petraeus’s views, admitted that the situation in Iraq is difficult. However, he claimed that the alternatives are worse. He repeated the allegation that it is possible to achieve the US goals in Iraq and achieve peace therein. What kind of peace, security, and stability can be achieved in Iraq in the midst of these bloodbaths and this stench of death, which is being smelled across Iraq?

Immediately afterward, an unidentified anchorman conducts a live telephone interview with Nizar al-Samarra’i, a writer and political analyst, in Damascus.

When asked about the Congressional testimonies by Petraeus and
Crocker, Al-Samarra’i says: “First, what can we expect from a report prepared by officials of the US Administration? The US ambassador is associated with the State Department and acts upon the directives of the US president. Likewise, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (corrects himself) the commander of the US troops in Iraq is associated with the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the defense secretary. What can we expect from an official government report on the situation in Iraq except embellishing the image of the US behavior in Iraq by saying that the US strategy is making big successes in Iraq? This report seems to be a response to the Hamilton-Baker report, which recommended a change in the US strategy in the Iraqi arena.”

Al-Samarra’i adds: “What is important is that the US president wagered immensely on the reports prepared by the commander of the US troops in Iraq and the US ambassador. This is due to the pressures that could be put on officials. Given this, it is easy to understand that the report was fully harmonious with the wishes of the US president.” In conclusion, he notes partisan rivalries and differences between the Democrats and Republicans over Iraq. Baghdad Satellite TV

Within its 1700 GMT newscast on 11 September, Baghdad Satellite Channel carries the following reports:
–”Gen David Petraeus, commander of the US troops in Iraq, has said that the number of US troops could be reduced to some 130,000 by next summer, which is the number of troops before the surge ordered by US President George Bush this year. But, it is too early to say when this number could be reduced to below 130,000, Gen Petraeus noted.”

This is followed by a report, which says: “With regard to the local political elites, veteran Iraqi politician Mahmud Uthman, MP for the Kurdistan Alliance, said that President Bush’s recent visit to Iraq was driven by a desire to hold consultations with Ambassador Crocker and Gen Petraeus before they submit their reports to the US Congress.” The report adds: “Commenting on the testimonies of the two men, Deputy Prime Minister Barham Salih expressed regret over the government’s political performance, which has not measured up to the required level of handling the unseen challenges posed to the country. He affirmed that the US troop surge achieved palpable security gains, but noted that these gains will be squandered unless Iraqi politicians work to achieve national reconciliation. For his part, Adnan al-Dulaymi, head of the Iraqi Al-Tawafuq Front, said that the two reports were realistic and reflected the situation in Iraq. He noted that the two reports stressed the need for national reconciliation, and for the government to heed real interests, which could foster the construction of Iraq. Izzat al-Shahbandar, MP for the Iraqi List, was not surprised by the content of the reports submitted by Petraeus and Crocker. He noted that the two men had earlier stated that a US withdrawal from Iraq would give Iran the opportunity to control Iraq. Nasir al-Isawi, MP for the Al-Sadr bloc, said that the reports are an attempt to buy more time ahead of the laying out of a new strategy in Iraq.”

Then, Iraqi laypersons are shown expressing their views on the Congressional testimonies. An unidentified middle-aged Iraqi man is shown saying: “By God, I am personally opposed to the notion of an immediate withdrawal by US troops, the international troops. Why? Because the situation here in Iraq is unstable. There is a need for a timetable for the withdrawal of the US Army.”

Afterward, a young man is shown saying: “Definitely, we are all sure that a US withdrawal is inevitable. We do not disagree over this matter at all. Meanwhile, we have a good government, enlightened people, and good field commanders. If a sort of general solidarity is achieved, we will support and bless a US withdrawal.” Al-Baghdadiyah Satellite Television

– At 1400 GMT on 11 September, Al-Baghdadiyah Satellite Television begins to carry a live relay of the closing session of the US Congressional testimonies by Petraeus and Crocker. Crocker is shown making his testimony. Then, Petraeus is shown making his testimony.

At 1420 GMT, Al-Baghdadiyah Satellite Television conducts a live telephone interview with Iraqi MP Mufid al-Jaza’iri for comments on the testimonies of both Crocker and Petraeus. Al-Jaza’iri says: “I think that this report was largely harmonious with the approaches of the US policy in Iraq. To do it justice, this report was largely honest in depicting developments in the security situation.”

Al-Jaza’iri adds: “Following this report, I think that many tensions here in Iraq will be defused. Better conditions for rapprochement and understanding among the various political forces will be made available. Likewise, in general, an environment that is conducive to addressing outstanding issues, particularly those pertaining to national reconciliation, which is key to any true progress in the coming period, will be created.”

When asked on whether this report backs the Iraqi Government or casts doubt on its successes, Al-Jaza’iri says: “In general, I think that this report came to lend a measure of credibility to (the performance of) the Iraqi Government. This report certainly noted some aspects over which the US side represented by Petraeus and Crocker and the Iraqi Government were in disagreement. Nonetheless, in general, all in all, the report can be considered positive, given how it viewed the evolution of the political process. Of course, the report did not fail to mention an important issue; namely, that there are many aspects which still need to be addressed. Greater efforts could have been made in the past to address these aspects. “

When asked to respond to some detractors who described Petraeus’s remarks regarding the security situation in Iraq as “fabrications,” Al-Jaza’iri says: “I do not think that they are fabrications. Many of the things he talked about are palpable things that we feel every day in our daily life. The security situation has certainly improved. There is no doubt about this, but the political situation has not improved.”
When asked about the remarks that Petraeus and Crocker made on Iran and Syria, and whether there could be US military action against them, Al-Jaza’iri does not rule out this possibility. However, he adds: “The use of military force against either Syria or Iran because of Iraq is a matter that has thus far remained out of the question or unlikely. However, the United States might wage a war against Iran due to the (Iranian) nuclear reactor or other pretexts.”

In conclusion, Al-Jaza’iri says: “We must take into account that the reports submitted by Petraeus and Crocker are not directed to the Iraqi or Arab public. Rather, they are directed to the American public and meant to address the political situation in the United States. They are meant to be factored in the struggles among various political forces in the United States. They are meant to provide some sort of ammunition for the battle being waged by President Bush against his Democratic opponents, who, for their part, are sharpening their weapons and getting prepared.”

Immediately afterward, Al-Baghdadiyah Satellite Television says: “US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker had warned that Iran would stand to gain from any US withdrawal from Iraq. In his testimony before the US Congress, Crocker noted the possibility of Iran carrying out an intervention in Iraq in case the United States withdraws its troops from there.”

At 1433 GMT, Al-Baghdadiyah Satellite Television says: “Husayn al-Falluji, member of the Council of Representatives for the Al-Tawafuq Front, has said that the reports su bmitted to the US Congress by Gen David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker have affirmed that the problem in Iraq is political rather than security-related. He added that the reports constitute a message addressed to the United States, given the fact that they noted that the US strategy is being implemented properly.”

–”Mustafa al-Hiti, MP for the National Dialogue Front, today criticized the Crocker and Petraeus reports, saying that they painted a rosy picture of the situation in Iraq at a time when life comes to a standstill at 1800 in Baghdad.”

The Al-Baghdadiyah Satellite Television report adds: “Al-Hiti expressed the belief that the reports came to embellish the image of the Al-Maliki government, or the image of the Bush administration and his party, which is facing opposition and crises in the United States.” Al-Furat Television Channel

Within its 1700 GMT newscast on 11 September, Al-Furat Television Channel carries the following reports:

–”Ammar Al-Hakim (son of Abd-al-Aziz al-Hakim, chief of the Iraqi Islamic Supreme Council) has received Australian Ambassador to Iraq Marc Innes-Brown. During the meeting, the two sides discussed the key points enshrined in the reports submitted (to Congress) by Gen David Petraeus, commander of the Multinational Force in Iraq, and US Ambassador in Baghdad Ryan Crocker. They also discussed the enhancement of friendly bilateral ties. Furthermore, they discussed the latest political and security developments in Iraq and the region.”

–”The US Congress listened to two reports submitted by US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker and Gen David Petraeus, commander of the Multinational Force. In his report, Crocker commended the efforts made by the elected government on the political and economic fronts, and also in the area of national reconciliation. He also praised the high sense of national responsibility felt by Iraqi leaders in the course of their handling of national issues. For his part, Petraeus stressed that any progress on the political front is contingent upon progress on the security front.”
–”The (Iraqi) Government has welcomed the two reports submitted by US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker and Gen David Petraeus, commander of the Multinational Force. At a news conference, National Security Adviser Muwaffaq al-Rubay’i affirmed that the issuance of such assessments of the political and security situation in the country confirms that there is transparency in assessing the political and security situation in the country.”

Afterward, the Al-Furat Television Channel carries a report saying: “The Al-Tawafuq bloc has described the results (enshrined in the two reports) as realistic. The Kurdistan Alliance considered the two reports positive, noting that they harmonize with the government’s efforts to safeguard security and stability.”

Salim Abdallah, MP for the Iraqi al-Twafuq Front, is shown saying: “My preliminary assessment is that they (the two reports) are somewhat realistic, particularly with regard to the issues pertaining to the security situation and the improvements that have taken place.” Then, Muhammad Khalil Qasim, MP for the Kurdistan Alliance, is shown saying: “We welcome this assessment. We within the Kurdistan Alliance support the government, his excellency the prime minister, and the efforts to render the political process a success.”

–”Parliamentary quarters have described the two reports submitted by Crocker and Petraeus as positive and constructive, and considered them as additional boost to the momentum of the political process, and to the elected government as well. MPs indicated that the two US reports underlined the (Iraqi) political leaders’ efforts and their determination to face up to challenges in the country. Besides, these reports highlighted the notable progress made on the security front, they added.”

–The Al-Furat Television Channel adds: “Shaykh Khalid al-Atiyah, first deputy speaker of the Council of Representatives, has considered the reports submitted by Crocker and Petraeus as positive in general. He added: The two reports highlighted the key obstacles facing the national unity government in the course of its efforts to achieve national reconciliation and consolidate security and stability in the country, which were identified by government officials.

“MP Ali al-Allaq affirmed that the US reports contained positive and constructive aspects and underlined the (Iraqi) political leaders’ efforts to face up to challenges in the country, noting that the two reports, in general, support the ongoing political process in the country. For his part, MP Qasim Dawud called for handling the reports submitted by Crocker and Petraeus seriously to ensure su pport for the march of the democratic process. He added that the reports noted many positive points, including the stabilizing security situation being witnessed in Baghdad and Al-Anbar compared to what it was last year.” Al-Fayha Television

Within its 1300 GMT newscast on 11 September, Al-Fayha Satellite Channel carries the following reports:

–”US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker and Gen David Petraeus, commander of the US troops in Iraq, yesterday, Monday, submitted their anticipated reports on field developments in Iraq on the political and security levels. Gen Petraeus affirmed that US troops, in cooperation with Iraqi troops, managed to largely weaken the clout of the terrorist Al-Qa’ida Organization in Iraq over the past eight months, and to deprive it of a safe haven in Iraq, which strongly boosts the troop surge strategy. He commended the Iraqi tribes’ role in cooperating with the Iraqi Government to help achieve security and stability. For his part, US Ambassador to Iraq Crocker affirmed that Iraq is currently experiencing a revolution, and not only a political regime change. This is because Saddam Husayn left a sectarian regime behind him, Crocker argued. He noted the Iraqi leaders’ determination to confront tough problems. The Crocker-Petraeus report harmonizes with the views of the Iraqi Government, which Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki expressed before the Council of Representatives.”

–”Gen David Petraeus painted a positive picture of developments in the security situation in Iraq. In a testimony before the US Congress, he affirmed that the US troop surge in Iraq resulted in defeating the remnants of the terrorist Al-Qa’ida Organization in Baghdad, and that the effort to clear the remaining cities is under way.”

This is immediately followed by another report, which says: “Americans view the dialogue with Petraeus and US Ambassadr Ryan Crocker in Congress as an important milestone in the ongoing debate in the United States on the status of US troops in Iraq, which Bush pledged will stay in the country until full security is achieved. However, many Democrats, who control the two houses of Congress, the House of Representatives and the Senate, are saying that the presence of these troops must be brought to an end.”

–”Iraqi Government Spokesman Dr Ali al-Dabbagh has described the report Petraeus submitted to Congress as positive. However, he added that this report mentions some difficulties encountered in the field, and that it is important to provide time to fully prepare Iraqi security troops. Al-Dabbagh went on to say that Iraq will be comfortable with a gradual withdrawal of US troops as long as such plans are discussed with the Baghdad government in advance. He said that a precipitous withdrawal would not be in any party’s interest; such a withdrawal would be in the interest of neither Iraq, nor the region.”