THE Iraqi general leant back and laughed so hard that his belly shook. General Jamal Ahmed was recounting Saddam Hussein’s visit to his war room, when all his generals knew that the Iraqi army would be beaten by the Americans but feared to contradict their leader’s insistence that they would prevail.
As commander of a 1,500-man brigade in a province that borders on Baghdad’s northern limits, Ahmed, 48, now has to listen to Iraq’s new leaders call for American troops to withdraw, knowing full well that the Iraqi army would again be overrun if they did.
“One hundred per cent we need the Americans in Iraq now,” Ahmed said last week in his office at the Taji base, 20 miles north of Baghdad. “The army can’t stand. We will be killed. We need training. Weapons. Equipment.”