Iraqi government warns of regional chaos

From the Times:

BAGHDAD, July 9 — The Iraqi foreign minister, Hoshyar Zebari, warned today that an early American withdrawal from Iraq could bring on an all-out civil war and regional conflict, pointedly telling the United States that it had responsibilities to continue lending support to the Baghdad government.

Mr. Zebari also asserted that Iraq’s neighbor Turkey had massed 140,000 troops near his country’s northern border and urged it to resolve differences with dialogue, not through force.

Mr. Zebari was speaking after a violent weekend in which more than 220 people were killed in Iraq, including 150 by a truck bomb in one of the deadliest single attacks since the American invasion in March 2003.

Asked if the Iraqi government’s was aware of the growing pressure on President Bush from Congress to impose a timetable for withdrawing American forces from Iraq, Mr. Zebari said his government was holding a “dialogue” with some congressmen.

“We explain to them the dangers of a speedy withdrawal and leaving a security vacuum, and the dangers vary from civil war to dividing the country or maybe to regional wars,” he said.

“Some people might disagree with this assessment, but in our estimation the danger is huge. Until the Iraqi forces and institutions complete their readiness, there is a responsibility on the U.S. and other countries to stand by the Iraqi government and the Iraqi people to help build up their capabilities.”

Mr. Zebari’s comments came after some Sunni and Shiite leaders called on Iraqi civilians to take up arms to defend themselves, amid frustration that Iraqi security forces had failed to halt the deadly suicide attacks....