What the summit did offer was a chance to contrast the anchors' interviewing skills. ABC's Charles Gibson had a chance to shine in his sit-down with al-Maliki. The prime minister predicted the Pentagon would phase out combat operations and shift to a training role; he told us to expect a handover of military command from US generals to Iraq in June 2007; and he guaranteed that he had enough clout as "supreme commander of the Iraqi forces" to eradicate militias "with no exception".
After the interview, Gibson fact-checked al-Maliki's claims with ABC's Baghdad correspondent Terry McCarthy (no link): disarming the Mahdi Army is a "surprising claim"…a takeover in seven months "way too short"…concerning the forces' loyalty to the central government, sectarian divides in the police "are getting worse not better."
Back in Baghdad itself CBS' Elizabeth Palmer assessed the Iraqi army's ten divisions as riddled with problems: "inadequate training, a high desertion rate, shortages of food, equipment, even wages." And its main missing ingredient is "loyalty to the state" as opposed to tribe or sect.
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