Allawi unplugged

Published October 6, 2004 6:56PM (EDT)

This is what happens when White House and Bush campaign staffers aren't feeding words into the mouth of Ayad Allawi. On Tuesday in Baghdad, in his first speech before the interim National Assembly, Allawi gave what the New York Times called "a sobering account" of the insurgency's threat to the stability of Iraq. Two weeks ago in Washington, the interim Iraqi prime minister gave a much rosier assessment, mimicking the Bush-Cheney talking points, of the situation in Iraq.

From the Times: "At his stop in Washington, Dr. Allawi made several sweeping assertions to reporters about the security situation in Iraq, including saying that the only truly unsafe place in the country was the downtown area of Falluja, the largest insurgent stronghold, and that only 3 of 18 provinces had 'pockets of terrorists.'"

"He did not directly contradict those statements on Tuesday, but his latest words reflected a darker take on the state of the war. 'It is true that the security situation in our country is the first concern for you, and maybe for your inquiries, too,' Dr. Allawi said in the 100-member National Assembly, which asked him combative questions after his speech in the nearly hourlong session. The insurgents 'are today a challenge to our will,' he continued. 'They are betting on our failure. Should we allow them to do that? Should we sit down and watch what they are doing and let them destabilize the country's security?'"

"Though Dr. Allawi joined President Bush last month in boasting of having 100,000 fully trained and equipped Iraqi policemen, soldiers and other security officials, he acknowledged Tuesday that there were difficulties in creating an adequate security force. 'It's clear that since the handover, the capabilities are not complete and that the situation is very difficult now in respect to creating the forces and getting them ready to face the challenges,' he said. He added that 'the police force is not well equipped and is not respected enough to lay down its authority' without backing from a strong army."

By Geraldine Sealey

Geraldine Sealey is senior news editor at

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