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Eyes set on Iraq’s political mess

Posted By Ahmed Abdullah

August 11, 2007

U.S. media has Iraq on its hot plate now more than ever, as many news outlets continue to discuss the supposed achievements that have been promised to take place in the war-torn country long time ago. 

Earlier this month, headlines beamed with news about the videotaped conversation between the U.S. President George W. Bush and Iraq’s Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki. During that conversation, Bush reportedly demanded Maliki to "show some progress in uniting rival factions”.

“The president emphasized that the Iraqi people and the American people need to see action, not just words, but need to see action on the political front," said White House Press Secretary Tony Snow. "The prime minister agreed,” he added. 

Meanwhile, “key Sunni officials announced they're leaving the Iraqi government,” CBS News reported. The White House downplayed the significance of the Sunni Accordance Front's resignation, with Tony Snow saying "reconciliation is ongoing" and noting that Iraq's Sunni vice president and defense minister "remain in place“. 

Despite the optimism that many Americans felt when the U.S. death toll in Iraq last month appeared to be relatively lower than previous months, media outlets continued to portray the bleak reality in Iraq. 

On its front page, the New York Times said the war's "staunchest supporters have seized on the reduced death toll in July for American troops as a sign that an influx of troops is dampening sectarian violence in the country. Yet even before the car bombings on Wednesday, opponents of the war were citing reports that the Iraqi civilian deaths were on the rise -- a fact they say belies any notion that the White House strategy is having its intended effect of protecting the Iraqi population."

Meanwhile, The Times disputed U.S. claims of reconciliations in Iraq and described the Sunnis' withdrawal as a “serious blow to hopes that Iraq’s feuding political parties could pass legislation sought by Congress as evidence of progress by Sept. 15,” when the top U.S. commander in Iraq General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker are expected to release their final assessment on the situation in Iraq.

The Financial Times (FT), which described the Sunnis' departure from the Shia-led national unity government as “a significant blow to hopes for Sunni-Shia reconciliation”, reported that the Sunni front blamed its resignation on the failure of the primes minister to meet a series of demands; “The government is continuing with its arrogance, refusing to change its stand and has slammed shut the door to any meaningful reform”.

The Washington Post also called the resignation an “indication of growing Sunni frustration with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki”.

Other news agencies discussed the tense situation that U.S authorities might be facing soon.

Senator Joseph Biden said on MSNBC’s Hardball: “I know Gen. Petraeus well, been in constant contact with him the last four and a half years. I disagree with his plan and the surge, but I think he's an honorable guy. I think he'll come back and say two things. You're going to have to read between the lines. And one's going to be, we've made some progress in the surge, we've made some military progress. But I think he'll be honest enough to say we've made no political progress.”

While U.S. military officials say it could take two years for a full withdrawal from Iraq, a top U.S. commander based in Kuwait told NBC Nightly News that “from a logistics standpoint, he's already got the plan and he's ready to go. All he needs is the President's order." 

The Washington Post also reported that Lt. Gen. R. Steven Whitcomb said facilities in Kuwait "have handled as many as 240,000 troops moving into and out of Iraq in as little as a three-month period during the war's major rotations."

Meanwhile, Roll Call said House Republicans "seeking to generate momentum on Iraq leading up to the highly anticipated mid-September briefing by Gen. David Petraeus," are "expected to focus heavily on the war's progress during the August recess to support the Bush administration's case that the surge strategy is working and Congress should not pre-empt military leaders on the ground." But August "could be a bruising month for the GOP as public polling continues to indicate low public support for the war. 

The Hill also said antiwar groups "are planning massive protests against the Iraq war for next year's GOP convention" in Minneapolis-St. Paul. It reported that White House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, “reversed herself on Iraq strategy, revealing a fight within the Democratic Caucus over how much Democrats should compromise to gain agreement with Republicans on the unpopular war.” 

House progressives "were fuming after they walked into a meeting with Pelosi to find out that she had decided to allow a vote on an Iraq bill they consider too mild." 

That bill would order President Bush to “ deliver within two months a plan on how to redeploy troops." It already received 24 Republican votes in the Armed Services Committee, but it may lose votes from liberal Democrats who have pledged not to support Iraq redeployment measures that don’t include a deadline. 

It’s obvious that the situation in Iraq is getting more and more complicated, a fact that requires decision makers to take definite and fast steps. Without sound decisions, life would be unbearable for Iraqis, who are the ultimate losers.

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