Bush to unveil new Iraq strategy

GLOBAL AGENDA
Jan 8 – 14
WORLD

WHAT IT IS

US PRESIDENT George W. Bush will announce a new Iraq strategy, most likely on Wednesday.

The options include boosting the number of American forces in Iraq, now at about 140,000. Proposals for an increase range from 8,000 more troops to as many as 30,000. While an increase in troop numbers is expected to be the centrepiece of the plan, other steps will also be taken. Mr Bush is reshuffling top military commanders and installing a new team to support his policies.

The personnel overhaul – which began in November when defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld quit – intensified last week. Among the changes, he has nominated spy chief John Negroponte to be Deputy Secretary of State, and named the current US ambassador to Iraq, Mr Zalmay Khalizad, to the top diplomatic post at the United Nations.

WHY IT MATTERS

The Bush administration is in a bind over Iraq. Three years after the United States invaded the country to topple Saddam Hussein, Iraq is edging towards full-scale civil war as fighting intensifies between Shi’ite and Sunni militias. And the death toll is rising – some 3,000 American soldiers have been killed so far.

The new approach aims at political reconciliation among rival camps, with a troop surge to weed out militia elements.

Despite widespread opposition to the unpopular and costly war from the Democrats in Congress – and Republicans concerned about re-election in 2008 Mr Bush is going ahead with the new plan. In the twilight of his presidency, he is intent on using whatever means necessary to carve out his legacy.

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