U.S. Seeks Broader NATO Role in Iraq
Powell said, according to Reuters, ”Ideas right now include NATO taking over one of the sectors, NATO playing a role in helping Iraqi forces get more capable.”
But German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer told a news conference that NATO had enough on its plate with boosting security in Afghanistan ahead of national elections in September, peacekeeping in the Balkans and fighting terrorism.
He said Germany would not block allied operations in Iraq, but would likely not participate.
Romania, Bulgaria and Slovakia, which along with four other east European countries joined NATO this week, voiced support for a larger role for the alliance in Iraq, where they already have forces. Eighteen of NATO’s 26 countries have troops in the U.S.-led occupying forces in Iraq.
NATO is providing logistical support for a Polish-led division in south-central Iraq and is looking to deploy five new military teams to assist with reconstruction projects and provide security for aid groups by June, Reuters reported.
Ministers had only a brief discussion on Iraq and it would take a request from the sovereign Iraqi government and a new U.N. Security Council resolution before allies would consider a vote, said NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer.
Powell’s request came at the end of a violent week in Iraq, including an ambush in Fallujah on Wednesday in which four U.S. contractors were killed and their bodies mutilated.
The U.S. military responded by vowing to “pacify” the city.
“We will be back in Fallujah. It will be at the time and the place of our choosing. We will hunt down the criminals. We will kill them or we will capture them. And we pacify Fallujah,” said Army Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, deputy director of operations in Iraq.
A cleric in Fallujah on Friday condemned the mutilation but did not criticize the killings. Sheik Fawzi Nameq told 600 worshippers gathered at the Hmood al-Mahmood Mosque for weekly prayers that “Islam does not condone the mutilation of the bodies of the dead,” the Associated Press reported.
“Why do you want to bring destruction to our city? Why do you want to bring humiliation to the faithful? My brothers, wisdom is required here,” said Nameq.
Clerics in Fallujah have been vocal opponents of the U.S.-led occupation.
Also Friday, a roadside bomb in Baghdad killed an American soldier in the Army’s 1st Armored Division and wounded another, who was reportedly in stable condition at a field hospital.
In a separate incident west of the capital on Thursday, a U.S. Marine was killed “as a result of enemy action” in the Anbar province, in which Fallujah is the most populous city, the military said Friday.
Three people were killed when a bomb they were planting at the entrance to a town hall in Riyadh in northern Iraq exploded prematurely, said police Col. Iyad al-Jabouri.