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U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

U.S. Forces in Iraq - Status Update

FPC Briefing
Major General Stephen Lanza
Director for Strategic Effects and Spokesperson
Foreign Press
Washington, DC
July 21, 2010

Date: 07/23/2010 Location: Washington D.C. Description: Major General Stephen Lanza, Director for Strategic Effects and Spokesperson in Iraq, meets with a journalist from al-Jazeera in the Foreign Press Center's new studio during Lanza's briefing on the U.S. forces in Iraq.  - State Dept Image

2:00 P.M. EDT

MODERATOR: Hello and welcome to the Washington Foreign Press Center. Today we have Major General Stephen Lanza who will deliver a U.S. Forces-Iraq update.

(Interruption to recording)

MAJOR GENERAL LANZA: forces and where we’re going in the future in our transition to the embassy. So rather me giving you a large opening speech, I’ll be happy to take your questions.

Start from there.

QUESTION: Joyce Karam, Al Hayat: Can I go ahead and start? (Inaudible) very good to see you. I wanted to ask you, are you worried at all about leaving a security vacuum behind after the withdrawal of the combat troops?

MAJOR GENERAL LANZA: We get that question a lot. First of all, when we come out of the cities on 30 June if you remember when the combat troops came out of the cities, violence in the cities went down 45 percent when the Iraqi soldiers and the Iraqi military took over the responsibility for securities in the city. And then overall, if you look at the amount of violence in Iraq right now, it’s at January, 2004 level when you put it in overall context of what is going in the country in terms of this numbers. If you look at the high point of the surge, it was 1,500 attacks in some cases per week in 2007. So, are we worried about that? No.

The reason I say that is because you have to go back now and look at how far the Iraqi security forces have come. And you have to look at some of the events some of the Iraqi security forces have been involved in over the last year.

First of all, we’ve talked about them coming out of the cities. Also, the effect they’ve had on the elections on 7 March and their security situation with the election. If you look at how they’ve grown in terms of capability and capacity in being able to provide internal security, that has increased as well.

Now our ability to do that is based on the security agreement to train, coordinate, advise, and assist them. So when we came out of the cities, what we were able to do was also get into the belts, the southern belt around Baghdad and other cities to help them secure that. More importantly, we started to train their supporter forces which has also enhanced their security. And that’s something that could have to continue obviously, beyond December of 2011.

Also, they started to build their capacity and capability in the navy and the air force. They already have security of the KAOT platform, which as you know – one of the major oil platforms in the Gulf. Their air force right now is well over 150 aircraft. That’s both fixed wing and rotary wing. It’s nascent, but it’s developing. They have 57 patrol boats right now in the Iraqi navy. So what we see right now is we see them continuing to develop their capability and capacity until we leave in 2011. More importantly, their ability to do external security and secure their borders is the major issue that they’re going to have. But we see that not creating a security gap, but actually we see that improving.

And more importantly, we see the Iraqi people wanting them to be in charge of security. When you look at the polling data right now in Iraq, the population supports the army with 80 percent satisfaction, 70 percent with the police. They want us to turn the security portfolio over to the Iraqis. And it’s in the Iraqis best interests to do that. And I would remind you, Joyce (ph), we’ve already done that. So as we transition to stability operations, that is because the Iraqi security forces not only are ready to do this, but the security conditions are conducive to doing it.

QUESTION: Ron Baygents, Kuwaiti News Agency: Do you want me go ahead?

QUESTION: Yasmeen Alamiri, Saudi Press Agency: Sure, well I have a follow-up question.


QUESTION: Ron Baygents, Kuwaiti News Agency: No, go ahead by all means.

QUESTION: Yasmeen Alamiri, Saudi Press Agency: I guess my (inaudible). And I’m with Saudi Press Agency. I’m more focused on what the remainder of the U.S. effort will be –


QUESTION: Yasmeen Alamiri, Saudi Press Agency: -- in the country. And more on – less on the military, just combat forces and the remnants making sure that schools secure and making sure that the infrastructure is in place. I was in Iraq not too long ago, and it seemed that simple things like trash pickup (inaudible).

MAJOR GENERAL LANZA: These are essential services you’ve got to address with the Iraqi Government. If you remember during the campaign, the Iraqi Government – excuse me, the people campaigned on two issues, jobs and essential services. Security was number four because of the security situation in Iraq. So there is a lot of work to be done in essential services. But this is something that the government of Iraq is going to have to do. What our role will be when we transition to stability operations is to help enable them to build civil capacity and civil institutions. But it’s through the State Department. They will have the lead on the mission post-1 September when we go to Operation New Dawn.

We will have three missions post-1 September as part of Operation New Dawn. The first will be to continue to enable counterterrorism operations to support the Iraqi security forces. The second will be to support the provincial reconstruction teams that are part of the State Department to help the Iraqis build civil capacity and develop civil institutions in the provinces. And then third, which is the continuing strengthening of the security forces. But it’s going to take the Iraqi Government to do this and to refocus on essential services and jobs.

Part of it is going to have to be developing resources and revenue to do that. That’s why the international oil contracts are so important, because they’re going to need a revenue base to do that. Right now, there’s a $77 billion budget that they had for 2011. And they have roughly a $25 billion deficit. They have about $10 billion in reserves. So there’s going to be a deficit gap in the budget. That is going to have to be resourced with foreign direct investment and oil in order to get to enhancing essential services and creating jobs in the country.

I would tell you right now that as far as security goes in the country, it’s not just military security right now. The focus right now needs to be economic growth and then political diplomatic development, which will enhance security in the country. They are at a point right now with security that it’s about as good as it’s going to get with our help on the security portfolio.

What will truly enhance growth in Iraq right now is to get into economic development and then political and diplomatic growth to enhance the strategic depth within Iraq. And that is something that the people have asked for during the elections, it’s part of holding the government accountable, it’s part of the government being transparent and responsible to the electorate. And then what we hope, obviously, is that this period right now that’s going on with the government transitioning closes, because what we’re going to need really is the government to be seen as soon as possible to address those issues.

QUESTION: Ron Baygents, Kuwaiti News Agency: Okay, so sorry, if I can pick up, so you said it’s about as good as it’s going to get now that – the security situation is? What is as good as it’s going to get?

MAJOR GENERAL LANZA: The security situation right now when you look at where it is in terms of January, 2004, it’s about as good as it’s going to get as far as with our involvement. We still have 50,000 people there. We still have the capability to influence. We still have the capability to support the Iraqi Government. But as far as us being – doing security operations – which that goes back to your question -- we’re not going to be doing it anymore. Our focus really is on enabling the Iraqi Government.

QUESTION: Ron Baygents, Kuwaiti News Agency: Thank you.


QUESTION: Ron Baygents, Kuwaiti News Agency: I wanted to try to get you to comment on the specifics about like the relationship between Iraq and Kuwait going forward as well as the other neighbors because you referred to the major challenge of the external security and the borders in the neighboring countries. And because the Iraqi Government is yet to coalesce or come together or form, how are the neighboring countries supposed to understand who they’re going to be dealing with and how effective their relationship’s going to be and so forth. And just comment in some fashion on sort of the pillars of what kind of relationship you’d like to see between two countries that formerly are enemies, and presumably will be allies going forward

MAJOR GENERAL LANZA: Well, first of all, that’s more of a State Department question to address, but let me take a crack at it from a military perspective.

QUESTION: Ron Baygents, Kuwaiti News Agency: Well, I’m thinking of security –

MAJOR GENERAL LANZA: Right, I’ll take it, but –

QUESTION: Ron Baygents, Kuwaiti News Agency: -- and border stuff.


QUESTION: Ron Baygents, Kuwaiti News Agency: Okay.

MAJOR GENERAL LANZA: From a security perspective, there’s minimal challenges with Kuwait for security other than making sure that the ports of entry right now are operational. And that has not been an issue. That’s something that is just going to have to be resolved in terms of Iraq putting some effort into their ports of entry. But as far as security with Syria and as far as Iran, the bottom line is respect for sovereignty of Iraq and respect their sovereignty. We would expect from a security perspective that other countries that border Iraq allow Iraq to develop their government and solve their issues themselves without a lot of external interference.

Certainly, the Government of Iraq is going to have to deal with its neighbors and they have to have a relationship with their neighbors, both from a security perspective and even from and economic perspective. But when you have maligned influence, whether it’s foreign fighters crossing the border, whether it’s weapons crossing the border, whether it’s trained fighters coming across or other kinds of weapons, that is something that is counterproductive to the country to include enabling of militias that, in some cases, operate within Iraq. So what – from a security perspective, the border countries should respect Iraq’s sovereignty. And we think right now that, as that happens, what Iraq will be able to do is focus not only on regional security, but be a better economic partner in the region to enhance overall stability and growth.

We have seen a drop in foreign fighters coming across from Syria to answer your specific question. But we still have seen a lot of maligned influence coming across from Iran, though it has dropped in the past couple of months. But there are still foreign fighters that have been trained that cross from Iran into Iraq. There are still resources that come into Iraq that are attempting to influence and shape the government in a negative way. And there’s also weapons that come into Iraq that support militias that tend to destabilize the government or tend to try to destabilize the government.

To kind of capture this, the prime minister himself has said that militias operating in the country are counterproductive to the government moving forward and that the legitimate authority of the government is the Iraqi security forces based on the constitution. So any country that enables the militias and is enhancing their capabilities is really counterproductive to Iraq moving forward.

QUESTION: Ron Baygents, Kuwaiti News Agency: Just that –


QUESTION: Ron Baygents, Kuwaiti News Agency: -- opening comment about making sure the ports of entry are operational, you’re talking about the seaport? They only have the –

MAJOR GENERAL LANZA: Well, you have land ports of entry, too.

QUESTION: Ron Baygents, Kuwaiti News Agency: Okay.

MAJOR GENERAL LANZA: You have land ports of entry.

QUESTION: Ron Baygents, Kuwaiti News Agency: All ports of entry.

MAJOR GENERAL LANZA: These are all ports of entry.

QUESTION: Ron Baygents, Kuwaiti News Agency: Okay.

MAJOR GENERAL LANZA: What you’re referring to is Um Qasr. And the port in Qasr is just one major seaport. But there’s also land port of entries and obviously the air ports of entry as well. But the real concern right now is the ports of entry that the security forces along the borders have to secure. And we’ve spent a lot of time with the Iraqi border forces working on ports of entry and building their capability to enhance border security, and specific control of the ports of entry.

QUESTION: Joyce Karam, Al Hayat: Yes, General, on those militias that are getting arms from outside men from Iran, how much are you concerned that they will be attacking the U.S. forces more during the process of withdrawing?

MAJOR GENERAL LANZA: Yeah, I don’t know if they’re going to attack more. I do know that it is something that we’re concerned about. It’s something that we’re concerned about be it (Khatam???) Hezbollah, be it Promise Day Brigade, or be it (inaudible). But it’s something obviously that we’re prepared for, something that we take very seriously. But more importantly, it’s something the Iraqi security forces have been able to continue to conduct operations against militia elements. And that’s the real issue here. They have to be able to sustain operations against those militias that would operate the government and against the country. But as far as us being attacked, it’s certainly a concern that we plan for. But with 50,000 soldiers there, we certainly have the capability to defend ourselves.

QUESTION: Ron Baygents, Kuwaiti News Agency: Is there any indication that you have that they will form a government any time in a year?


QUESTION: Ron Baygents, Kuwaiti News Agency: I know this is just ongoing.

MAJOR GENERAL LANZA: It’s ongoing. And I think, once again, to put it in context, look where they’re at here. Let me put this in context. And you’ve dealt with the Middle East. This is the first time, I think, in the Middle East where the Iraqi people – I think of any Middle Eastern country – where they’ve had an election on an open list. I can’t think of a country in the Middle East that has gone in and is able to choose a candidate of their choice. And that’s why the elections were extremely close, which is causing a challenge as they form a government. We have 91 seats in Iraqiyah (ph). We had 89 with State of Law. We had – INA had a large amount of seats as did the Kurdish delegation.

So you have a very large challenge ahead of the government to form this. But I think what’s important is how are they doing it? They’re doing it through political discourse. They’re doing it through dialogue. We have not seen the military revert back to supporting a party. We have not seen the military revert back to supporting an individual. They have remained apolitical throughout this process. So the important thing is will they get it right as far as forming the government and do they make this an inclusive government so that what the Iraqi people have voted for are represented and that no party has been left behind and no one has been marginalized. And I think that’s a challenge right now, but it’s something that they’re moving towards.

So whether they get it done before Ramadan or whether they get it done after Ramadan, I think the concern is have they done it in a way that is representative to all the people that were part of that election, because you had 62 percent of the country that were part of this election, which is a fairly sizable amount of people. The other thing I would highlight is that the Council of Representatives – 82 people in that Council of Representatives are going to be women. I can’t think of many countries where 25 percent of a legislative body is made up of women. I mean there are some historic things going on in Iraq from these elections in terms of how it’s been done. And it’s a nascent democracy. This is a new process to them, this political process that they’re going through on building a representative government. And I think it’s important, though, that as they go through this dialogue, it is better they come to a solution that everybody can agree to rather than rush to a solution that is going to cause them problems in the long run.

QUESTION: Ron Baygents, Kuwaiti News Agency: So I inferred -- you talked about before Ramadan and after Ramadan – it almost sounds like you think they’ll do it this year?

MAJOR GENERAL LANZA: Oh, absolutely. They’ll be done this year.

QUESTION: Ron Baygents, Kuwaiti News Agency: Okay, I wanted to get somebody to say that.

MAJOR GENERAL LANZA: My – yes, they’ll have a government this year.

QUESTION: Ron Baygents, Kuwaiti News Agency: Right. Okay.

MAJOR GENERAL LANZA: Now, whether it’s on before or after Ramadan –

QUESTION: Joyce Karam, Al Hayat: We’re still in July, though, come on. This is like –


QUESTION: Ron Baygents, Kuwaiti News Agency: Yeah, but how – March has been while back, too.

MAJOR GENERAL LANZA: I mean, I think, honestly, I think they’ll have a government after Ramadan. I think people who say they won’t have a government this year –

QUESTION: Ron Baygents, Kuwaiti News Agency: I’m not saying that {they won’t have a government}.


QUESTION: Ron Baygents, Kuwaiti News Agency: I just want to –

QUESTION: Ron Baygents, Kuwaiti News Agency: But after Ramadan, I mean, do you think it will happen before September 1st or after Ramadan is –

QUESTION: Ron Baygents, Kuwaiti News Agency: After Ramadan is vague, but that’s – he said this year, so that’s good enough for me.

MAJOR GENERAL LANZA: They’ll have a government this year, whether it’s – I think – my personal opinion is I think the discussions are going to continue during Ramadan. I think this is so important to the Iraqi Government that these discussions that they’re having right now, Maliki meeting – or not Maliki – Allawi meeting Sadr in Syria, Maliki meeting Allawi last night for the third time. A lot of the discussions amongst parties, I think that’s going to continue. And perhaps if it’s not done during Ramadan, these discussions will continue during Ramadan. But I’m fairly confident that they’ll have a government by the time Ramadan is over; maybe after Eid. But I certainly don’t think it’s going to happen – or not to happen next year. I disagree with that.

QUESTION: Ron Baygents, Kuwaiti News Agency: Well, I don’t – I wasn’t –


QUESTION: Ron Baygents, Kuwaiti News Agency: I wasn’t –

MAJOR GENERAL LANZA: No, but I mean, I think there’s a lot going on right now. And they’re working very hard in the State Department. The U.S. State Department has done a lot to help that process. The Vice President has been involved. Ambassador Hill has been involved. There’s a lot of people involved in trying to help them build consensus to bring this government together.

QUESTION: Joyce Karam, Al Hayat: The situation in Anbar, we’ve seen al-Qaida attacking in the last few weeks. How confident are you? How is – are al-Sahwa capable of holding it together?

MAJOR GENERAL LANZA: Well, first of all, let’s talk about al-Qaida. Al-Qaida is trying to reassert themselves in the belts as you know. We have had very good success against al-Qaida, specifically against the hierarchy of al-Qaida with the killing of al-Masri and Omar al-Baghdadi. We have put tremendous pressure on their network, both in the recruiting area, media area, and financial area. So the large network of al-Qaida from hierarchy perspective has really been affected. So include them being able to be able to communicate outside of Iraq with al-Qaida senior leadership.

The majority of al-Qaida in Iraq right now are made of Iraqis. And as I said earlier, they’re trying to assert themselves. And a primary target is the SOI, the Sons of Iraq. The Sons of Iraq were former al-Qaida. They fought against them, but to be perfectly frank with you, the government supports them and I think you’ve seen Prime Minister Maliki’s statement the other day when they had the attack in Radwaniyah where the prime minister says, “We support the Sons of Iraq because they have been patriots.” And if you listen to these statements from Abu Risha, if you listen to some of the other statements of Sahwa, they want to do what’s right by Iraq, they want to do what’s right by Islam in terms of bringing a moderate view of the country to bring political parties together. And they have been very dogmatic pushing back against extremism.

Now, there were some challenges with them getting paid as you know. And the Government of Iraq is responsible for them getting paid and has done very good work to try to mitigate that. But more importantly, they’re going to transition them to the Iraqi Government. Right now, 40 percent of the Sons of Iraq have transitioned to the Iraqi Government. There is still a lot of them that still have to transition. They have been held up for transition because the Government of Iraq wants to keep them in security mode because they’ve done such a good job in that. But I would envision over time that by the time our mission ends that the Sons of Iraq will have transitioned to the Iraqi Government in the various different ministries.

Now, your other question – I think combined both here, but –

QUESTION: Joyce Karam, Al Hayat: Yeah.

MAJOR GENERAL LANZA: A little bit about al-Qaida. Al-Qaida, right now, is operating – it’s been broken down into three different areas. You have right now what are called the opportunists that support al-Qaida. Now, these are the individuals that support al-Qaida for money. And because the network has been fractured, there are individuals that will support al-Qaida for money. And then you have the nationalists, those individuals that support al-Qaida to facilitate their own means to reassert their views and their perspectives in changing Iraqi Government. And then the third category is the major category of al-Qaida which are the ideologues, the people that want to reestablish the (inaudible).

Now, that is where we’ve had the most effect on al-Qaida in our recent operations and we’ll continue to put pressure on that network. Al-Qaida is still capable of conducting attacks in Iraq. They still have the capability to do that, though it has been decentralized. They have not shown the capability to conduct large-scale high-profile attacks as we’ve seen in the past. But they still are capable. So we are concerned, obviously, that we continue to put pressure on the network and more importantly that the Iraqi security forces continue to sustain offensive operations against al-Qaida.

Where we’ve had success with the Iraqi security forces is by use of intelligence. Iraqi security forces have a tremendous human intelligence capability obviously. We have a tremendous technological capability. When you mesh those two capabilities together, you’re able to fuse a large amount of intelligence that is able to go after al-Qaida.

The other thing I would share with you is that we’ve picked up a lot of documents when we had the operations against A -- UAB and AAM, al-Baghdadi and al-Masri. And when we translated those documents, we saw that a lot of people in al-Qaida, specifically some of the younger people in al-Qaida, were questioning the ideology of al-Qaida, were questioning what they were trying to do, were questioning their individual role with al-Qaida and was al-Qaida really moving towards the purposes that were really conducive to helping Iraq. Or not helping Iraq, but helping their cause. And we did see a lot of dissention, which was very interesting when we pulled these documents off the objective. And those documents have been released to the Iraqis because they’re using those obviously to educate the population.

QUESTION: Joyce Karam, Al Hayat: Is that stuff you found this year?

MAJOR GENERAL LANZA: This is stuff we found this year. I believe April – I think –

QUESTION: Joyce Karam, Al Hayat: April 18th.

MAJOR GENERAL LANZA: April 18th was when we had the operation against UAB and AAM. The other thing I would tell you about al-Qaida is that the population itself has truly rejected the ideology. It is much tougher for al-Qaida right now to operate amongst the population. It’s much tougher them to recruit, as I said earlier. It’s much tougher for them to have freedom of movement, because the ideology of – or the population does not accept the ideology of al-Qaida. In fact, as al-Qaida continues to conduct these attacks, it actually galvanizes the population more against al-Qaida. And you’ll see that again with the polling data, the polling data that shows the population’s reaction to al-Qaida.

And that includes Sunnis as well. It is not just Shiite. It is Sunnis reacting against al-Qaida. So once again, they’ll try to reassert themselves as they’ve tried to do Abu Ghraib, specifically in Anbar, to go to your question. They’ll attack the police in Anbar, because the police are staying in the cities. They’re in Fallujah, they’re in Ramadi. So they’re trying to attack them to move them out of the cities. They have not achieved that purpose. And they’re attacking the sons of Iraq because they’ve been effective.

But what’s important to know about al-Qaida is that while some of these attacks have occurred, the purpose of the attacks, to foment sectarian violence, to fracture the government, and to move the Iraqi security forces out of the cities and out of conducting operations has not been achieved. So I think that’s an important point is that the purpose of the attacks have not been achieved by al-Qaida.

QUESTION: Yasmeen Alamiri, Saudi Press Agency: Are the ideologues mostly from outside of Iraq? What’s the –

MAJOR GENERAL LANZA: Well, if you remember, al-Masri and Omar al-Baghdadi, the senior al-Qaida person was from outside of Iraq.


MODERATOR: No, I was about to say I think we have time for about one more quick question. And I’m sorry if I interrupted, sir. Finish your answer.


QUESTION: Yasmeen Alamiri, Saudi Press Agency: So right now the leadership is –

MAJOR GENERAL LANZA: The leadership right now is fractured in terms of their ability to coordinate outside of Iraq. And we have been very effective in limiting their ability to coordinate with senior leaders outside of Iraq. This is the al-Qaida senior leadership. They have reverted back to a courier system and we have had very good effects against breaking down that courier system and hindering their ability to communicate outside of Iraq.

QUESTION: Yasmeen Alamiri, Saudi Press Agency: And my question is, is there any concern that say that the election turns out and Maliki ends up taking leadership of the country and there’s some wide-spread concern that that would be the product of corruption. Is – I guess how much of this is taken into consideration in the U.S. strategy going forward because there might be rebound effect. I mean, now we’re seeing a lot of positive growth, but what if –

MAJOR GENERAL LANZA: It’s a great question. I think whoever comes into the Government of Iraq, this corruption is going to be an issue. And I think dealing with corruption right now is something the Iraqi leadership is going to have to take on. And I think it’s something that they recognize is an issue that has to be looked at. So obviously we continue to support that.

And obviously what the Embassy is trying to do is work with the Iraqis on the rule of law and working through the rule of law. We have seen improvements in the Iraqi Government embracing the rule of law. We’ve seen better evidentiary-based procedures. We’ve seen the Iraqi Government issue warrants for arrests. We’ve seen the judges actually use evidentiary-based procedures. We’ve seen the police use forensics. Forensic laboratories are being built. So as far as the rule of law, there has been steady improvement in the Iraqis using rule of law and implementing the rule of law.

But as far as some of the issues with corruption, specifically when it comes to the borders, that is something that we think will have to continue to be addressed by the new government.

QUESTION: Yasmeen Alamiri, Saudi Press Agency: Can I ask about the Sadrists?

MODERATOR: Can we have the last question?

QUESTION: Yasmeen Alamiri, Saudi Press Agency: One last question?


QUESTION: Yasmeen Alamiri, Saudi Press Agency: How do you assess his capability that –

MAJOR GENERAL LANZA: Right, well, I think first of all, we have to recognize that they have 39 votes or 39 seats. So obviously they’re a political party that has to be reckoned with. I mean, they did very well during the elections with 39 seats. And I think that the government as they build this consensus government, they’re part of the discussion. They are a significant part of the Iraqi National Alliance. They have 39 seats. They’re the largest block of the INA. So you can see that Allawi has met with them and you can see that the Sadrists are part of the discussion. And they’re going to be have to be brought into this debate. I certainly don’t think they can be marginalized as a party.

Now, obviously any militia group or any type of group that espouses violence should be brought into the political process. So we would hope, obviously, that the Sadrists want to be part of the political process and want to support a peaceful transition of government. So it remains to be seen what’s going to happen with the Sadrists, but right now, they are part of the political process and the political debate of putting the government together.

QUESTION: Joyce Karam, Al Hayat: So will you remain in Iraq then? What is your actually – what are you post-September 1st plans?

MAJOR GENERAL LANZA: Well, what happens – you mean for the USF-F?

QUESTION: Joyce Karam, Al Hayat: Well, for you personally and then –

MAJOR GENERAL LANZA: Oh, for me personally. No, I’m coming back to Washington, DC. I’m getting reassigned. I’m going to be chief of Army public affairs. So you’ll have a chance –

QUESTION: Joyce Karam, Al Hayat: Oh, that’s great.

MAJOR GENERAL LANZA: You’ll have a chance to be on me some more. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Yasmeen Alamiri, Saudi Press Agency: Okay.

MAJOR GENERAL LANZA: No, but what happens on 1 September and if I could just take a second, this transition to Operation New Dawn is significant. And I don’t want to lose sight of the fact of what’s actually happening here, because this transition from combat operations to stability operations is significant. This is the first time since I’ve been in the military that we and the United States Embassy have really built a joint campaign plan together on this transition. And this joint campaign plan was built show how we’re going to transition Iraqi operations to civilian authority. And that’s exactly what happens on 1 September.

We’re going to transition military control to civilian control. And we have already done a large amount of work right now to figure out what tasks have to transition from USF-F, U.S. Forces Iraq, to a United State Embassy. And I think this is something that post-1 September we ought to be looking at in terms of how we’re doing these stability operations and then the Embassy’s new role. And this goes back to your question where the majority of our focus is really going to be on building civil capacity and developing civil institutions. It’s going to be much easier with a new government in position. Because right now, as you know, without a government in this inter-regiment period, we can’t generate any legislation, we can’t do anything new. What we can do is just sustain what is already going on.

I think from a positive aspect, though, is that the government continues to function. So even though we’ve had this long period since the elections on 7 March, the Iraqi Government does continue to function, albeit there are some challenges with essential services. And I think you’ve seen that in the electricity, I think you’ve seen that with garbage in Baghdad. There have been some protests. There were some protests in Nasariyah.

But once again, from a positive perspective, Iraqi people are protesting about essential services. They’re complaining to the government. They want to hold the government accountable. And I think when you have people protesting against electricity, protesting against garbage pickup, and protesting about things that are not security-related, but are related to the quality of life, I think that’s something that shows that the political process in Iraq is evolving. And these demonstrations were conducted peacefully. And they were allowed to be conducted. And the minister of interior issued a permit. So – and then the Iraqi Government actually did something. They did something by shedding the lodes for the electricity. They did something by looking at corruption at the substations in order to generate more power for the people. So they listened to the population. And I think the population wants to be heard.

So I think if you look at those demonstrations from a perspective of would that have happened a couple years ago, would people have been able to demonstrate against essential services and the lack thereof and would the government have listened to them. So again, it’s important that the people still continue to embrace the political process and feel that they’re part of political process and positive change in Iraq.

MODERATOR: Thank you all for coming. I think we’ll have to leave it there.

MODERATOR: (Inaudible) is now concluded.

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