Iraq Pullout Could Boost Insurgents: Cheney

Former veep says hard-fought success could be reversed

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
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    Dick Cheney says U.S. military's pullout from Iraqi cities could be too soon.

    Former Vice President Dick Cheney says pulling out of Iraq's major cities could give the insurgents an opening to reverse hard-won progress to bring peace and stability to the embattled nation.

    Speaking to the Washington Times on Monday, Cheney said he is concerned about U.S. forces withdrawing from Iraqi cities within 24 hours. The former veep said he backs Gen. Ray Odierno, commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, but said the Washington-ordered pullout could backfire.

    "What [Odierno] says concerns me: That there is still a continuing problem," Cheney said. "One might speculate that insurgents are waiting as soon as they get an opportunity to launch more attacks.

    "I hope Iraqis can deal with it. At some point they have to stand on their own. But I would not want to see the U.S. waste all the tremendous sacrifice that has gotten us to this point."

    About 50,000 troops will remain in Iraq outside of the cities to train Iraqi police, but all U.S. forces are expected to be out of the country by the end of 2011.

    Iraqi Gen. Abud Kambar al-Malliki warned militias during the transfer ceremony of the Sadr base that his forces "are ready to fight you if you attack our citizens."

    Gen. Odierno said Sunday on CNNs "State of the Union" that he believes Iraqi forces are ready.

    "They've been working towards this for a long time," he said. "And security remains good. We've seen constant improvement in the security force; we've seen constant improvement in governance. And I believe this is the time for us to move out of the cities and for them to take ultimate responsibility."

    Insurgents have been busy as the pullout approaches, with several deadly bombings. Scores of people died in the attacks, which appeared designed to shake confidence in the government, as well as to reignite sectarian fighting.

    From Jan. 1 to the end of May, the number of improvised explosive devices that detonated or were found and neutralized in the greater Baghdad area was 454, a 75% drop from the same period last year, according to the U.S. military.