If he really intends to use maximum force against terrorism, does he intend to move against the dissemination of the jihad ideology, which legitimizes violent acts? Will he encourage a national discussion about the “role of Islam” in the Iraqi government as it relates to jihad violence? “Iraqi PM vows “maximum force” as bombs kill 19,” from Reuters, with thanks to JE:
BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Iraq’s Prime Minister Nuri al- Maliki vowed to use “maximum force against terrorism” on Sunday, as bombs killed at least 19 people in Baghdad during the first meeting of his national unity cabinet.
In a reminder of the task Maliki faces in stemming bloodshed and drawing angry, fearful Iraqis back from the brink of civil war, a suicide bomber killed at least 13 people and wounded 18 in a crowded restaurant popular with police.
A day after parliament approved the cabinet of Shi’ites, minority Sunnis and Kurds and its programme to combat violence and consolidate the U.S.-sponsored transition to democracy, U.S. President George W. Bush said the new government marked a “new day for the millions of Iraqis who want to live in freedom.”
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said it was too early to commit to sending home some of the 130,000 U.S. troops and said top U.S. military commanders will meet the Iraqi government over the coming weeks to discuss the roles of Iraqi and U.S. forces.
“It is premature before we’ve even had this discussion with the Iraqi government to start giving firm commitments on what the drawdown will look like,” Rice told Fox television.
Maliki said in the programme he read to parliament he will work to complete rebuilding Iraq’s U.S.-trained armed forces so that foreign troops could leave within an “objective timetable.”
Bush, who is eager to show signs of progress in a war he launched three years ago to remove Saddam Hussein and is costing almost daily casualties to American troops, also said the new government marked a “new chapter” in Iraqi-U.S. relations. He called Maliki and other Iraqi leaders to congratulate them.
Briefing reporters after the cabinet met in Baghdad, Maliki, a tough-talking Shi’ite Islamist, said his government would hold out the offer of dialogue to Sunni rebels who lay down weapons and finish off militias — a tall order given the attachment his Shi’ite and Kurdish allies maintain to their own armed groups.
“We will use maximum force against terrorism, but we also need a national initiative” for reconciliation, he said. “Militias, death squads, terrorism, killings and assassinations are not normal and we should put an end to the militias.”…
Despite Maliki’s efforts to forge consensus among Iraq’s rival communities, partisan wrangling over jobs and differences over the role of Islam, the sharing of Iraq’s natural resources and the structure of the Iraqi state highlight the problems he will face in holding his colleagues to a common policy.