June 28th, 2009
02:38 PM ET
13 years ago

Iraqi troops ready to secure major cities, top Army general says

(CNN) - Despite some high-profile bombings in recent days, Iraq's security forces are ready to take over for U.S. forces this week to stabilize the nation's major cities, the U.S. commander in Iraq told CNN on Sunday.

Army Gen. Ray Odierno said he's seen a "constant improvement" in both the security situation and governance in Iraq to prepare for the June 30 deadline for U.S. troops to withdraw from major cities.

"They've been working for this for a long time," Odierno said on CNN's "State of the Union."

In a separate interview on "Fox News Sunday," Odierno said all U.S. troops already were out of Iraq's major cities before Tuesday's deadline.

"We have already moved out of the cities," Odierno said. "We've been slowly doing it over the last eight months. And the final units have moved out of the cities over the last several weeks."

The shift is part of the security agreement that former President George W. Bush's administration signed with Iraq.

In the CNN interview, Odierno blamed the recent violence in Iraq on "extremist elements using the timeframe and date to gain attention to themselves and divert attention from the success of Iraqi security forces."

The 131,000 U.S. troops in Iraq still will "maintain full coordination with Iraqi forces inside the cities" and continue to have intelligence capacity, Odierno said. With approval from the Iraqis, they also will carry out operations in major cities as necessary, he said.

Odierno said his goal is to help provide security that allows Iraq to hold planned national elections leading to the eventual removal of all U.S. troops by the end of 2011.

He said his biggest worry is a breakdown in stability such as a "consistent increase in violence" or a situation that Iraqi forces can't handle.

"I don't see that" happening, Odierno said. "I think we're on the right path."

Odierno also said Iran continues to "interfere" in Iraq, including training insurgents and paying surrogates. But he said his mission is limited to providing security within Iraq, no matter the provocation from Iran or elsewhere.

"I'm not authorized to do anything outside the borders of Iraq," he said.

Iran's government has repeatedly denied fomenting violence inside Iraq.

Updated: 2:38 p.m.

Filed under: Iran • Iraq • State of the Union
soundoff (54 Responses)
  1. jaye

    The republicans are looking for a rason to invade Iran – they love war.

    June 28, 2009 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  2. Avi shlom

    little fuzzy match may help. If we have interest in Iraq that is 9000 miles away, then iqually Iran has interest in next day neighbour, I am not sure why the general is playing the victim, when could not tolerate a russian infulence in Cuba. General bring those innocent troops home and let Israel fight is own wars ion the region without our help.

    June 28, 2009 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  3. Success

    Iran is simply the spear of the "axis of evil",in as much as I appreciate d pragmatic approach of this government.I seriously think d US should consider a quick & precise military action,especially when d lives of our soldiers & new allies are at stake.

    June 28, 2009 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  4. RR

    Good think our President is bending over backwards to make nice with the Ayatollah and Iran's government. It sure is paying off much better than Bush's policy of isolation!

    June 28, 2009 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  5. pa. independent

    I don't watch John King or his wife Dana Bash. They should be on Fox.

    June 28, 2009 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  6. Mark,B'ham,Al.

    The Mullahs make the Shaw look like a nice guy. If America thinks it can trust this Iranian Leadership we are bigger fools (I could think of a better list of words but then I would get censored.) than the rest of the world thinks we are. In the muslim world they respect strength over anyother character in leadership. We must keep showing our strength to keep our own safe. It is too bad we did not take care of Iran duing Jimmy Carter's Administration.

    June 28, 2009 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  7. D. Tree

    The plain facts are that Iran accounts for less than 2% of foreign fighters in Iraq. The majority of interference comes from Saudis.

    June 28, 2009 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  8. eric

    A President Mccain would have long ago bombed Tehran. A President Palin will no doubt bomb Iran. The republicans want Obama's talks with the muslim world to fail.

    June 28, 2009 11:14 am at 11:14 am |

    Obama is taking the only path that a responsible person could take. By not making any moves that can be seen as aiding the protesters he can avoid the possible missunderstanding of USDA support like John McCain created in Georga war with Russa. That tyhpoe of mixed signals has been a recurreing theme in USA policies. To the point no one really trusts us.

    June 28, 2009 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  10. Surly Scholar

    D. Tree is exactly right. To that end, it's possible that every single suicide bombing over the course of the war was the work of a Saudi, most likely a Wahabi militant.

    Culturally, suicide bombing is a profoundly un-Iraqi act. Wahabists are the ultraconservative militant sect of Islam, based in Saudi Arabia, who invented the nonsense about the 72 virgins and encourage suicide bombing (it's really a hilariously bad interpretation of a single page in the Qur'an), and the Saudis pretty much started funneling those folks into the country the minute Iraq's borders became penetrable. And I imagine there's still plenty of them there.

    Oh, and do remember that all the 9/11 hijackers were either Saudi militants, or foreign nationals recruited in Saudi Arabia. That country has been murdering our civilians and troops for quite a long time now. With Bush and his dubious connections to their royal family no longer a factor, I eagerly await Obama finally getting a little tougher on them.

    June 28, 2009 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  11. Jphilly

    This isn't anything new. Iran has been interfering in Iraq even under Bush's policies of isolation. Are focus should continue to be training Iraqi Forces and building up their infrastructure and government. Any military action we take must be focused solely on this interference and shouldn't be on Iran as a whole. We can't fight every brutal regime and oppressive government at once. Also Obama shouldn't have diplomacy with Iran until they have a government recognized by its own people.

    June 28, 2009 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  12. Mark Rogers

    And we should trust this "intelligence" because the "intelligence" about Iraq was soooo accurate. Haven't we meddled enough in that part of the world?

    June 28, 2009 11:22 am at 11:22 am |

    Iraq needs to step up to the fact that they have to provide their own security. The USA should never gotten involved in the first place. The Republican Party seems to think the USA has lots of MONEY for wars in places we do not belown but they always say that the USA can't afford health care for AMRECANS. But then most Republicans are rich and can afford the best health care and the Republican Base is not able to think forthemselves and blindly go along with what the Republican talking heads tell them.

    June 28, 2009 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  14. Jacob-WA

    From reading all the comments I have realized that us republicans are blamed for every war and quite possibly every problem in the world. Gee I wish I was as politically conscience and peaceful as a liberal. Wake up!! The Iranian government for years has called us the devil, that's why this election was so important. The rebellion group hasn't denounced the US. Its only a matter of time before they attack, but I guess it doesn't matter, its probably a republicans fault anyway.

    June 28, 2009 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  15. arc, Lugano CH

    RR June 28th, 2009 10:43 am ET
    Good think our President is bending over backwards to make nice with the Ayatollah and Iran's government.
    You are entitled to your opinion but I beg to differ. President Obama isn't 'bending over backwards' as you eloquently put it. I believe President Obama has proceeded in an intelligent and cautions manner because there was little question as to who would win the Iranian election. It was Ahmadinejad's strategy all along to attempt to bait the United States into a political catch-22 in regards to accusing the west of interference; President McCain would have already given Ahmadinejad exactly what he wanted, and that could be a plethora of things none of which would help improve American diplomatic relations in the region.


    June 28, 2009 11:34 am at 11:34 am |

    There are a lot of factors that are hard to understand when your only point of reference is your own back yard. The world is a conplex set of values many of them are not shared by the USA. In order to be more effecdtive in dealing with world problems it is essential to see the world from a wider point of view. We are blessed with a presedent that is able to think before he reacts. He makaes every effort to see the problem from a point of view that is not just about supporting the war industry. National security is really not measured by counting bombs it is in the ability to form bonds and establish ties to countries that will enable them to grow and become partners rather than threats. It is said that people are like ropes your can lead them but you can't push them.

    June 28, 2009 11:35 am at 11:35 am |

    It is extremly siklly to think that the other contender for president of Iran is more pro American. That was never established. He would have to take orders from the religious leaders too. The reason Iran calls the USA the great DEVIL is because of the history of US involvement in their country. This is more reason to avoid the appearance of interfearence now. To the Repubican with the hurt feelings. No it is not just a Republican problem. But Repubicans have tended to support the industries of WAr and profit from them most.

    June 28, 2009 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  18. Letcommonsenseprevail

    @ Mark Rogers-this "intelligence" is from a highly-respected general whom I served under. He's a no-nonsense guy. So yes, this information is highly credible.

    At the liberals who have posted on here, get a dictionary and learn how to spell. The fact that you can't spell only shows off your intelligence. Please refrain from making yourself look any dumber in the future, it makes it difficult to read your uninformed rants.

    And finally, yes, the Iranians are providing the weapons, explosives, etc. to those in Iraq who wish to destabilize the government. What GEN Odierno said is 100% accurate. In order for it to stop, there needs to be a more active presence along the borders by Iraq's military. If they can secure their borders, then the internal violence definitely stop.

    June 28, 2009 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  19. Patrick Walker

    So, the US is accusing Iran of interference in another country. Wow. How did this American general miss the forest for the trees...

    June 28, 2009 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  20. MBFLA

    Why are we still interfering in Iraq? Leaving 50,000 troops is still an occupation.

    June 28, 2009 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  21. Paul H

    Iran has also detained Britain embassy employees. Not unlike the hostage crisis of the late 70's when the US embassy was taken over by the now existing government of Iran.
    It's about time to punch the big bully in the mouth, but who's going to do it, and when?
    Obama is trying to wait this out, but he has to man up, and get tough on these guys. It's already out of hand, but it's not to late to reassert ourselves and make something happen.
    These are the kinds of issues that will be the down fall of this administration.

    June 28, 2009 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  22. Andrew Stec

    Iran is interfering in Iraq? SEEMS LIKE THE POT CALLING THE KETTLE BLACK.

    June 28, 2009 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  23. Zero.

    You don't need to worry Mr Obama. Israel, will do your job for you.
    Mr Obama. As usual.

    June 28, 2009 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  24. Gordon

    To: Letcommonsenseprevail–consider the content of the message
    and don't be so petty about spelling you idiot.

    Iran should supply whatever they feel is required to Iraq; after all,
    we invaded and continue to occupy that sovereign nation. We tell
    them what to do, when to do it and how to do it. I'm glad Iran has
    the guts to stand up to this country.

    June 28, 2009 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
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