Monday, November 13, 2006

Gen. Abizaid Meets With Iraqi Leader

General John Abizaid is Commander of the United States Central Command (CENTCOM), overseeing American military operations in a 27-country region, from the Horn of Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, to South and Central Asia, covering much of the Middle East. CENTCOM oversees 250,000 US troops. Abizaid succeeded General Tommy on July 7, 2003.

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- Gen. John Abizaid, head of the U.S. Central Command, met Monday with the Iraqi prime minister to "reaffirm President Bush's commitment" to success in Iraq, the government said.

Nouri al-Maliki and Abizaid, who commands all U.S. forces in the Middle East, discussed "the effect neighboring countries are having on the security situation in Iraq," the government statement said in a clear reference to Iran and Syria.

The meeting's agenda foreshadowed recommendations that are expected when the bipartisan Iraq Study Group issues a report recommending changes in U.S. policy in Iraq, where the war has dragged into its 44th month.

The commission, headed by former Secretary of State James A. Baker III and former Democratic Rep. Lee Hamilton of Indiana, was widely expected to recommend that the Bush administration engage Syria and Iran to help security in Iraq, where sectarian fighting threatens to become a civil war.

Syria is believed to be aiding the Sunni insurgency responsible for the deaths of most U.S. soldiers and tens of thousands of Iraqi Shiites. The Iranians are deeply involved in aiding Shiite militias, whose death squads are in the midst of a campaign of revenge killings against Sunnis.

Abizaid was the third top U.S. official to visit al-Maliki since National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley showed up unannounced on Oct. 30.

Five days later, U.S. National Intelligence Director John Negroponte also arrived unexpectedly, but aides to al-Maliki told The Associated Press the prime minister rejected his demand that Shiite militia's be disbanded by the end of the year.

Read the rest at the Washington Post

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