One Maliki = One Friedman

Add another row toAtrios’ conversion table, as Nuri al Malikitalks some smack.

Iraq’s prime minister said on Thursday he could get violence under control in six months, half the time U.S. generals say they need, provided Washington gave him more weaponry and more say over his own forces.

In sharp criticism of the handling of Iraq’s security by the United States, Nuri al-Maliki denied U.S. assertions he was working to a timetable of steps agreed with Washington.

He also told Reuters in an interview he had no fear the Americans might oust him, after President George W. Bush said on Wednesday his patience was “not unlimited” and that he would back Maliki “as long as he continues to make tough decisions”.

“They think building Iraqi forces will need 12 to 18 months, for us to be in control of security,” Maliki said, referring to remarks two days ago by U.S. commander General George Casey.

“We agree our forces need work but think that if, as we are asking, the rebuilding of our forces was in our own hands, then it would take not 12-18 months but six might be enough.”

He called for more say on security policy once the U.S.-led Coalition’s U.N. mandate runs out in December.

“If anyone is responsible for the poor security situation in Iraq it is the Coalition,” Maliki said.

“I am now prime minister and overall commander of the armed forces yet I cannot move a single company without Coalition approval because of the U.N. mandate,” Maliki said.