Despite improved security, Iraq will need US troops for 10 more years, but won’t accept permanent bases, an Iraqi official said yesterday. "For 10 years our army will not be able to defend Iraq," said government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh. Iraq has asked the United Nations Security Council to extend the mandate of international forces in Iraq through 2008 and to permit US troops to remain beyond that.
There are currently 155,000 troops in Iraq, though the US plans to withdraw at least 20,000 by mid-2008. "I do not think that there is a threat of an invasion of Iraq, but to protect Iraqi sovereignty there must be an army to defend Iraq for the next 10 years," said Dabbagh.