Iraq won’t be ready to defend its borders until 2018 at the earliest, the defense minister said yesterday, offering a pessimistic update of an earlier estimate. The country will also require internal security help through at least 2012, Abdul Qadir said. The estimates are more specific—and longer—than any American politician has voiced in public, reports the New York Times.
Qadir visited an Army base in Virginia to continue hammering out long-term strategies with US officials. “We are transitioning from crisis mode, from dealing with day-to-day battlefield decisions, to a long-term strategic relationship,” said a Pentagon spokesman. Specifics of the US military's future status in Iraq are expected to be set by July.