Watch CBSN Live

Maliki: U.S. Critics Just Don't Get It

Iraq's beleaguered prime minister lashed out Sunday at his U.S. critics, saying they don't appreciate the country's achievements and fail to understand how difficult it is to rebuild after decades of war and dictatorship.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said some of the criticism from Washington in advance of this month's progress reports has been counterproductive.

"Such statements sometimes cross the limits and send signals to terrorists luring them into thinking that the security situation in the country is not good," al-Maliki said without offering specific example.

He said U.S. critics may not know "the size of the destruction that Iraq passed through" and do not appreciate "the big role of the Iraqi government and its achievements, such as stopping the civil and sectarian war."

But the Democratic-controlled Congress is growing increasingly frustrated with the slow pace of political reform in Iraq. Sen. Hillary Clinton and Sen. Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, have called for al-Maliki to be replaced.

The criticism comes as U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker and the top American military commander, Gen. David Petraeus, prepare to deliver reports to Congress during the week of Sept. 10 on the degree of progress achieved since President George W. Bush ordered nearly 30,000 more troops to Iraq.

A draft report by the Government Accountability Office concluded Iraq has satisfied only three of 18 benchmarks set by Congress for measuring progress and partially met two others.

None of those five benchmarks are the high-profile political issues such as passage of a national oil revenue sharing law that the U.S. has said are critical to Iraq's future.

During an interview broadcast Sunday by Iraqi state television, Crocker also urged patience with the Iraqis as they try to reach power-sharing agreements among Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds.

"After 35 years of injustice under Saddam Hussein, there are some problems since liberation and the problems of 40 years cannot be solved in a year or two," Crocker said, speaking in Arabic. "What is important is that there is progress."

In Other Developments:

  • Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki ordered an investigation Sunday into last week's deadly clashes surrounding a Shiite religious celebration in Karbala, which saw more than 50 people killed and hundreds injured. He promised that it would be conducted without bias. The announcement came only hours after anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr called for the government to investigate the violence, which many have blamed on his own Mahdi Army militia.

    A statement from Sadr's office said that more than 200 al-Sadr followers have been detained in the past three days in Karbala province, making Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's praise of the decision to freeze the Mahdi Army nothing more than "ink on paper."

    Jawad al-Hasnawi, a Sadrist member of Karbala's provincial council, said the prime minister had promised to stop detaining people in connection with the incident but "despite the promises...detentions are still going on." He said more people were arrested Sunday morning. "They have taken us back to the era of the former dictatorship," al-Hasnawi said.

  • In violence around the country, the corpses of six apparent torture victims were brought to the Kut morgue, and four people were killed when a car bomb exploded near a crowded Baghdad square, police said. Another 10 were injured.
  • Before dawn on Sunday, police in Nasiriyah, about 200 miles southeast of Baghdad, said they arrested six suspects in coordinated raids on several houses believed to be used by Mahdi Army militiamen responsible for recent violence in the area.
  • The U.S. military conducted several other raids in Baghdad on Saturday that targeted Mahdi Army factions, arresting 11 suspects.
  • In an early-morning raid in the village of Qasarin, 10 miles north of Baqouba, on Sunday, U.S. forces captured seven more suspects, accused of distributing deadly explosively formed penetrators and other weapons flowing from Iran into Iraq to militias, said U.S. military spokesman Lt. Col. Christopher Garver.
  • Military spokesman Rear Admiral Mark Fox confirmed Sunday that U.S. forces arrested six people in a raid Thursday at the al-Sabah state-run newspaper in Baghdad. Fox said the military staged the raid on "actionable intelligence" and found illegal weapons when they searched the facility.
  • The U.S. military announced the apprehension of another 47 insurgents in a series of raids, including four in an operation Sunday in which eight al Qaeda in Iraq suspects were killed. During the raid U.S. soldiers liberated nine Iraqi hostages who were being held in a Baghdad-area building by the al Qaeda fighters, the military said.
  • In the southern city of Basra, an Iraqi commander said that British forces would officially hand over its base at a palace complex within a few days. "Iraqi forces are already deployed and concentrated in the palace," General Mohan al Fireji said at a press conference. "The Iraqi forces are ready to take security responsibility in Basra."
  • View CBS News In
    CBS News App Open
    Chrome Safari Continue