Troops may be needed in Iraq until 2018

Iraq’s defence minister has said that he will need the help of the US, and most likely Britain, in security matters until at least 2018.

Abdul Qadir’s projections are the most extensive timeline to date of how long the coalition forces can expect to have a presence in Iraq. The projected departure date of 2018 is far longer then Britain, the US or Iraq had previously suggested.

Qadir said that Iraq was incapable of taking full responsibility for its security nationwide before 2012 and would not be able to secure its borders against insurgents and smugglers before 2018. President Bush has never given a specific timeline as to when the US would leave Iraq, only saying the country would see through the commitment. Prime Minister Gordon Brown has never given a suggested date of complete withdrawal either, although he has hinted at a complete pullout possibly by the end of the year.

A Pentagon spokesperson called Qadir’s projections “ less optimistic then ours,” according to the New York Times.

Qadir’s comments came during a weeklong trip to the US to meet with various defence officials. The Department of Defence has labelled the trip a “military relationship building” one, saying that it was a huge step forward in the two countries establishing a conventional military relationship. Qadir is also believed to be shopping for equipment for the Iraqi military. Equipment he is believed to be interested in include, tanks, ground vehicles, armoured personnel carriers, artillery and helicopters.