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Front Page: Iraq, Pakistan, and Michigan

  • The Iraqi defense minister, Abdul Qadir, said yesterday that Iraq will need US assistance until 2018. While a withdrawal date has never been given, President Bush has indicated that as Iraqi forces are able to stand up, US forces will stand down. Qadir's prediction as to when that will be possible is more cautious than last year, so this proposed end date will likely draw attention. Qadir elaborated on this date saying, "in regard to the borders, regarding protection from any external threats, our calculation appears that we are not going to be able to answer to any external threats until 2018 to 2020.”
  • Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf is ordering government troops to shoot anyone who might try to disrupt parliamentary election proceedings. Delayed from Jan. 8, after the Dec. 27 assassination of Benazir Bhutto, Musharraf is strongly defending the upcoming February elections. Violence surrounding the assassination cost Pakistan $200 million and left 58 dead. The Associated Press of Pakistan reports that Musharraf said, "let me assure you we are going to instruct the Rangers and Army to shoot miscreants during elections...we will not allow this to happen again."
  • The polls are open in today's Michigan Republican primary. The outcome in the tight race between John McCain, who's facing little fire from competing candidates, and Mitt Romney, who lost in both Iowa and New Hampshire, will shape the field of candidates dramatically.
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