Iraq Moves to Cut Size of Government

Posted July 30th, 2011 at 12:05 pm (UTC-5)
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Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has reached an agreement with parliament that calls for reducing the size of his national unity government.

The plan, which was announced Saturday, cuts the size of the Cabinet by at least 12 ministers.

Earlier, Mr. Maliki had outlined a proposal that called for reducing the size of the Cabinet from 46 to 30 ministers. He said the government's size had become a “burden” that caused delays in decision-making.

Iraq's government has been criticized for its deadlocks on key issues, including whether to ask the U.S. to extend its military presence in the country beyond a December pull-out date.

Both Iraqi and U.S. officials have expressed concern about Baghdad's ability to cope with security after the withdrawal.

On Saturday, a U.S. government report said Iraq has become a more dangerous place than it was a year ago.

The assessment was in a report released by the U.S. Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction. Stuart Bowen said Iraq remained “an extraordinarily dangerous place to work” that is less safe than it was 12 months ago.

In his quarterly report to the U.S. Congress, he cited concerns that include the deaths of 15 U.S. soldiers last month. Bowen said June was the deadliest month for U.S. military personnel in two years.

On Saturday, Mr. Maliki also said Iraq would buy 36 fighter jets from the United States. He said the military planes were needed to help Iraq protect its sovereignty.

Earlier this year, Iraq delayed plans to purchase at least 16 F-16 fighter jets from the U.S. after deciding to allocate the funds to pay for food rations.