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Iraqi Government Responds to President Bush’s New Strategy

As the first new U.S. troops move into Baghdad as part of President Bush's revamped Iraq strategy, the Iraqi government has raised questions about the plan. A former spokesman for the Iraqi government and a journalist discuss Baghdad's response.

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    U.S. military supply convoys entered Iraq from Kuwait today, a precursor to the surge of American forces ordered by the president with an aim of quieting the violence in Iraq.

    Building up over time, more than 20,000 extra troops will mainly serve in Baghdad and Anbar province, bringing the number of U.S. servicemen and women in the country back up to more than 150,000. Today, the U.S. commander in Iraq, General George Casey, said the success of the security mission depends on the Iraqis stepping up.

  • GEN. GEORGE CASEY, Commander Multi-National Force-Iraq:

    As with any plan, there are no guarantees of success, and it's not going to happen overnight. But with sustained political support and the concentrated efforts on all sides, I believe that this plan can work.


    But it's political support from the Iraqis that has been questioned. The eight-month-old government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has failed in its attempts to rein in armed militias.

    In an interview with CBS's "60 Minutes," President Bush repeated last night the onus is on al-Maliki.

    GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States: I told him he's got to provide the troops he said he would provide inside Baghdad, and we'll help him. I said, when our guys get moving along with yours, you can't get on the phone for political reasons and stop the troops from going after killers.

    In other words, what they'd do is they'd say, "We're going after this killer," and they'd say, "Well, for political reasons, don't." A killer is a killer. And we expect them to go after both Shia and Sunni murderers in order to provide the security for Baghdad.


    Saturday, al-Maliki confirmed the president's plan mirrored his own. He told a small group of Iraqi reporters, "What we have seen in the American strategy is that it is identical to our strategy and our intentions, our strategy that aims to control security is based on using force against any outlaws, whatever their background or identity."

    But al-Maliki did not name the Mahdi Army, a militia loyal to his Shiite ally, cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. The cleric's influence on Iraqi politics has hindered past U.S. attempts to secure some areas of Baghdad, including the Shiite neighborhood of Sadr City, named after his father.

    That's caused some U.S. lawmakers from both parties to doubt the administration's new plan will work.

    SEN. CHRIS DODD (D), Connecticut: The Maliki government said almost a year ago that they were going to control the militias, they were going to bring security in the country, they were going to deal with a revenue-sharing law, they were going to bring services to the people of that country, all of these five goals they set out, none of which have even been closely achieved in that period of time.


    And Republican John McCain, a strong supporter of the president's plan, expressed skepticism of the Iraqi leadership.

    SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), Arizona: I don't guarantee success. We're going to have to have Maliki, who has not been — shall I say, he's been a slender reed — to be far more forthcoming and far more supportive. We've got to get the Iraqi military performing better. There's a number of things that have to happen.


    The additional U.S. troops should be in place in Iraq by this summer.

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