Iraqi general says US should stay in Iraq for 5 more years

U.S. troops should stay in Iraq for five more years to ensure stability and if they withdraw too soon, the country will slide into civil war, an Iraqi general said Tuesday.

Maj. Gen. Anwar Mohammed Amin, commander of the Iraqi army's 2nd brigade, said the Iraqi armed forces were not ready to assume major security responsibilities without American support.

"We need the U.S troops to stay in Iraq for five years in order to maintain stability in this country and to avoid sectarian and ethnic tensions as well," he told reporters. "If the U.S withdraws now, there would be disaster and civil war."

U.S. officials had been signaling plans for substantial reductions in the 133,000-strong military presence here until the sharp rise in sectarian tensions following the Feb. 22 bombing of a Shiite shrine in Samarra and reprisal attacks against Sunnis.

Those tensions have contributed to the deadlock in negotiations among the different parties on a new government national unity. U.S. officials have said such a government must be in place before substantial troop withdrawals can begin.

But Amin indicated that progress in building up Iraqi capabilities may be slower than expected.

"There is a similarity between the Iraqi army and a baby who just wants to walk," he said. "I am a military man and I have my own experience. Therefore, I do say the army needs to be armed, trained and equipped which needs time", reports AP.

O.Ch.