Baghdad Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki continued his open dispute with American officials Thursday, blaming the United States-led coalition for Iraq's chaos and faulting its military strategy.
According to a partial transcript of the interview distributed by Reuters, al-Maliki said he thought that Iraqi troops, left to their own devices, could re-establish order in Iraq in six months, not the 12 to 18 months that top U.S. commander Gen. William Casey predicted Tuesday.
Al-Maliki offered a different set of priorities for fighting violence than U.S. officials, who've said the greatest threat to Iraq comes from death squads aligned with Shiite Muslim militias. In recounting a meeting with the head of one of those militias, cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, al-Maliki said he and al-Sadr agreed "that the efforts for all political groups should be focused on the most dangerous challenge, which is al-Qaida and the Saddam Baathists." Both those groups are made up primarily of Sunni Muslims.