Aussie PM Continues Obama Attack

Australian Prime Minister John Howard has refused to back away from his comments Sunday morning that Barack Obama's plan to withdraw troops would be a victory for terrorists.

Howard was speaking in Parliament, Monday afternoon Australian time, and said that he will not retract the comments he made on Sunday. He said that if he hears a policy advocated that is contrary to Australia's security interests he will criticise it.

John Howard also said that if America was to bring their troops home in the early part of next year, it would represent a defeat in Iraq.

It is not common for an Australian senior political figure to criticise a candidate for office in another country, and Howard has come under fire from the Labor opposition and some sections of the media for his statements.

Obama has said that Howard's statements are empty rhetoric if he wont back up his statement by sending more Australian troops to Iraq.

Australia currently have 1,400 troops in Iraq compared with America's 140,000. Australian troops have not suffered any combat fatalities during their 4 years there.

Prime Minister Howard is a close friend and ally of President Bush.

These are John Howard's comments from Sunday morning.

LAURIE OAKES: On that subject, Senator Barack Obama's announced overnight he's running for the Democrat Presidential nomination, and he says if he gets it he has a plan to bring troops home by March, 2008 and his direct quote is "Letting the Iraqis know we'll not be there forever is our last, best hope to pressure the Sunies and Shiah to come to the table and find peace". So, basically he's agreeing with the Labor Party.

JOHN HOWARD: Yes, I think he's wrong, I mean, he's a long way from being President of the United States. I think he's wrong. I think that would just encourage those who wanted completely to destabilise and destroy Iraq, and create chaos and victory for the terrorists to hang on and hope for Obama victory.

If I was running Al-Qaeda in Iraq, I would put a circle around March 2008, and pray, as many times as possible, for a victory not only for Obama, but also for the Democrats.

LAURIE OAKES: If he wins, and you're still there, bad news for the alliance.

JOHN HOWARD: Well I tell you what would be even worse news for the fight against terrorism, if America is defeated in Iraq. I mean, we have to understand what we are dealing with. We're dealing here with a situation where if America pulls out of Iraq in March 2008. It can only be in circumstances of defeat. There's no way by March 2008, which is a little over a year from now, everything will have been stabilised so that America can get out in March 2008.

And, if America is defeated in Iraq, the hope of ever getting a Palestinian settlement will be gone. There'll be enormous conflict between the Shi'a and the Sunnis throughout the whole of the Middle East. Saudi Arabia and Jordan will both be (destabilised), Al-Qaeda will trumpet it as the greatest victory they've ever had and that will have implications in our region because of the link, the ideological link at the very least, between the Al-Qaeda and JI.