Surely there must be an Iraqi Karen Hughes: strong, on message, size 12 sensible shoes…
Looks like the White House didn’t write the latest Allawi script:
In his first speech before the interim National Assembly here, Prime Minister Ayad Allawi gave a sobering account on Tuesday of the threat posed by the insurgency, saying that the country’s instability is a “source of worry for many people” and that the guerrillas represent “a challenge to our will.”
In his speech, Dr. Allawi, who has cast himself as a tough leader since taking office in late June, insisted that elections would go ahead in January as planned, but he acknowledged that there were significant obstacles standing in the way of full security and reconstruction. The nascent police force is underequipped and lacks the respect needed from the public to quell the insurgency, he said, and American business executives have told him that they fear investing in Iraq because of the rampant violence here.
His tone was a sharp departure from the more optimistic assessment he gave to the American public on his visit to the United States last month. At his stop in Washington, Dr. Allawi made several sweeping assertions to reporters about the security situation in Iraq, including saying that the only truly unsafe place in the country was the downtown area of Falluja, the largest insurgent stronghold, and that only 3 of 18 provinces had “pockets of terrorists.”
He did not directly contradict those statements on Tuesday, but his latest words reflected a darker take on the state of the war.
“It is true that the security situation in our country is the first concern for you, and maybe for your inquiries, too,” Dr. Allawi said in the 100-member National Assembly, which asked him combative questions after his speech in the nearly hourlong session.
The insurgents “are today a challenge to our will,” he continued. “They are betting on our failure. Should we allow them to do that? Should we sit down and watch what they are doing and let them destabilize the country’s security?”
Though Dr. Allawi joined President Bush last month in boasting of having 100,000 fully trained and equipped Iraqi policemen, soldiers and other security officials, he acknowledged Tuesday that there were difficulties in creating an adequate security force.
“It’s clear that since the handover, the capabilities are not complete and that the situation is very difficult now in respect to creating the forces and getting them ready to face the challenges,” he said.
He added that “the police force is not well equipped and is not respected enough to lay down its authority” without backing from a strong army.
Puppet strings have limits, you know….