Iraqi interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi kicks off a brief visit to Germany Thursday to rally support for his beleaguered country and convince Berlin that Iraq will become a democracy.
Iraq's Allawi hopes for more German aid but not troops
Ahead of his Friday meeting with Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, Allawi stressed that Iraq doesn't need German troops. Instead he called on Germany to intensify its help in reconstructing Iraq.
"I didn't come to Germany to ask for troops," Allawi wrote in an article published in the Thursday issue of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung daily. "For our security, we need better Iraqi troops, not additional soldiers from faraway countries. That's why Germany training Iraqi personnel in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is so important."
German Army soldiers check in for a flight to UAE where they train Iraqi security forces on former German Army trucks and vehicles to make them mechanics and drivers.
So far, Germany has trained 430 Iraqi police in the UAE, and since Nov. 21 the German army has been conducting additional courses there for Iraqi soldiers. Still, Berlin, which vehemently opposed the US-led invasion of Iraq, has taken considerable flack -- from Washington as well as EU members Britain and Italy -- for categorically ruling out sending troops to help stablize Iraq.
Refusing to comment on the criticisms, Allawi praised bilateral relations, which he said were untarnished by a colonial past, and said that German companies too should take part in rebuilding the country.
"No choice" in Fallujah
In the newspaper article, he wrote that his government was constructing a democracy that was open to all Iraqis who support non-violence. He had ordered military action in Fallujah because the rebels there left him no other option, he said.
Allawi stressed that the majority of Iraqis supported his government's aims: "an Iraq governed by Iraqis and controlled only by Iraqi soldiers and police." He said that the fact that Iraqis continue to volunteer for the army and the police, despite danger of suicide bombers at recruitment offices, showed that they back the government.
He wrote that although the Iraqis were grateful for the help of foreign soldiers, they looked forward to the day that the troops would no longer be needed to maintain stability.