Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Still waist deep in the Big Muddle

It appears there will be no pre-election troop drawdown from Iraq after all. The WashPost reports:

President Bush said yesterday that he will send more U.S. forces and equipment to Baghdad as part of a fresh strategy to put down rising sectarian violence, abandoning a six-week-old operation that failed to pacify the strife-torn Iraqi capital and opening what aides called an unexpected new phase of the war.

Playing host to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki at the White House for the first time, Bush sounded unusually dour and acknowledged that the situation in Iraq in many ways has worsened lately. But he vowed to adjust tactics to deal with evolving threats and to keep U.S. forces in Iraq as long as necessary to fortify Maliki's government until it can defend itself.

The additional U.S. forces for Baghdad, which could total in the thousands, would come from elsewhere in Iraq, but the deteriorating security situation seemed to all but doom the prospect for significant troop withdrawals before the November congressional elections. The Pentagon had drawn up scenarios that envisioned pulling out as many as 30,000 troops this year, but military officials said yesterday that those now appear implausible and that U.S. forces will probably remain at the current level of 127,000 for several months at least.


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