By Donna Miles
WASHINGTON, Aug. 27, 2006 – Iraq is not now and will never be in a civil war, the country's prime minister told Wolf Blitzer today on "CNN Late Edition." Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, speaking from Baghdad, praised strides being made in Iraq on the political, economic and security fronts and said that despite news reports to the contrary, violence is on the downswing and Iraq's new government is succeeding.
Maliki insisted that a spirit of reconciliation is taking hold in Iraq. "The violence is not increasing," he said. "Iraq is not in a civil war. Iraq will never be in a civil war." While declining to specify exactly how long Iraq will need coalition forces to reinforce its own security efforts, Maliki said the believes it "won't be long," possibly "within a year or less."
"I don't want to commit to a certain time or a certain period, but I want to have my best efforts to decrease this time for a year or less, or a few months," he said. But Maliki emphasized that he's not anxious to see the coalition leave until the Iraqi security forces are prepared to handle the job alone to ensure progress already made can continue.
He noted that Iraq's security forces are slated to take control of all provinces by the year's end and said they're gaining in both numbers and capability every day. "Our security ability is increasing," he said. Meanwhile, Iraq won't allow its neighbors, including Iran, to interfere in its affairs and disrupt this progress, Maliki said