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Saturday, March 17, 2007

White House Fact Sheet: Four Years Later

From the White House Website:

On The Fourth Anniversary Of The Beginning Of Operation Iraqi Freedom, The Regime Of A Brutal Dictator Has Been Replaced By A Democratically Elected Government Operating Under One Of The Most Progressive Constitutions In The Arab World. While there is much work to be done, there are encouraging signs of progress.

Achieving Our Goals Will Require Patience And Determination

Iraqi Security Forces Are Stepping Up To Take Control Of Their Country's Security. Iraqi Security Forces continue to gain strength and are fighting alongside Coalition forces. Their commitment and sacrifice are real: Casualty levels for Iraqi Security Forces are now higher than for Coalition forces.

  • Iraq is now operating 9 National Police brigades and 31 Iraqi Army brigades, meaning almost 329,000 Iraqi Security Force members are now risking their lives to secure their country and allow political progress to continue.
  • 9 of Iraq's 10 Army divisions are taking the lead in their areas of operation.
  • 3 of Iraq's 18 provinces have acquired full responsibility for their own security.
  • Iraqi-planned, Iraqi-conducted, and, most important of all, Iraqi-led missions continue throughout Iraq.

Iraqis Are Beginning To Meet Benchmarks To Achieve Political Reconciliation.

  • In February 2007, Iraq's Council of Ministers approved a national hydrocarbon law that provides for an equitable distribution of oil revenues throughout the country. It now needs to be approved by the Council of Representatives and then implemented.
  • Last month, the Iraqi government also approved a $41 billion budget that includes $10 billion for reconstruction and capital investment and $7.3 billion for development of Iraqi Security Forces and security related expenses.
  • Iraq's leaders must meet the other pledges they have made. These include:

1) Narrowing the limitations of the de-Baathification law;
2) Establishing the framework and setting a date for provincial elections; and
3) Continuing to pursue the constitutional review process: The Constitutional Review Committee, with representation from all major political blocs and technical assistance from the United Nations, is now working and is likely to present potential amendments to parliament in the next two months.

On March 12, 2007, Iraq Convened A Regional Conference Of Thirteen Nations, Including Neighboring Countries And The U.S., As Well As The United Nations, The Islamic Conference, And The Arab League. Conference attendees discussed issues of common concern regarding Iraq and agreed to form working groups on border security, fuel imports, and refugees. They plan to hold another regional meeting at the ministerial level in April, which U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will attend.

On July 27, 2006, Iraq And The UN Announced The Formal Launch Of The International Compact With Iraq. This Compact, jointly shared by the Government of Iraq and the United Nations, with the support of the World Bank, will bring together the international community and multilateral organizations over five years to help Iraq implement key reforms and grow fully integrated into the international economic community.

  • On March 16, 2007, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon Urged Representatives From Over 90 Countries To Back The Compact. Representatives at this meeting closed the text of the Compact and are now moving on to the formal signing and implementation stage.

The New Way Forward In Iraq

In January, President Bush Announced A New Strategy For Iraq. This strategy has as its top priority reducing violence in Baghdad, to give Iraqi leaders the breathing room they need to make political progress. It gives our troops the reinforcements they need, and it demands more from Iraq's elected government. We have seen tangible progress, but this is work that will not be accomplished in days or weeks – it requires a sustained course of action over many months. The strategy includes:

  • Establishing More Than 45 "Joint Security Stations" Throughout Baghdad. These stations are neighborhood outposts where U.S. and Iraqi forces are jointly deployed 24 hours a day to secure the population, provide emergency aid to local communities, and gather information to root out extremist networks throughout the capital.
  • Stepping Up Training The Iraqi Army And Police – So We Can Help Ensure That The Iraqi Forces Are Capable Of Providing The Security That Iraq Needs.
  • Ordering Reinforcements Of More Than 20,000 Combat Forces To Iraq. The vast majority of these troops will go to Baghdad. Two of the five additional American combat brigades we committed to this fight are now in place and involved in operations with their Iraqi counterparts. The flow and movement of the third brigade to Kuwait has begun, and troops continue to arrive every day.
  • Enhancing Our Civilian And Diplomatic Efforts. As our military reinforces its mission in the greater Baghdad area and Anbar province, a complementary effort is underway on the civilian side in the form of a joint Defense Department and State Department initiative to double the number of Provincial Reconstruction Teams in Iraq, with a primary focus on Baghdad and Anbar province. The first wave of civilian volunteers has completed training and will deploy to Iraq by the end of this month.

Implementing This Strategy Will Require Sustained Action Over Many Months, But We Have Already Seen Progress.

  • The Iraqi government has completed the deployment of three additional Iraqi Army brigades to the capital. These additional forces join the nine National Police and seven Iraqi Army brigades already in the Greater Baghdad area.
  • Prime Minister Maliki has affirmed that there will be no political interference in security operations. Iraq's leaders have lifted restrictions on Iraqi and Coalition forces that prevented them from going into certain areas, and U.S. and Iraqi troops are now pursuing the enemy in neighborhoods like Sadr City, where operations were once restricted.
  • About half of the planned joint security stations have been established in neighborhoods across Baghdad.
  • Iraqi and U.S. forces have rounded up hundreds of people affiliated with violent extremist groups, discovered and destroyed weapons production facilities, and recovered large weapons caches, including mortar weapons systems and rocket-propelled grenades.
  • Iraqi and U.S. forces have launched successful operations against Sunni extremists.
  • Sectarian killings have been lower in Baghdad over the past several weeks than in the previous month.
  • Two major car bomb factories have been destroyed on the outskirts of Baghdad.
  • Several trucks equipped with heavy machine guns used for engaging Coalition aircraft have been destroyed.
  • In Anbar province, a number of Sunni tribes have begun to unite against extremists, providing a new wave of Iraqi recruits to join the fight against the terrorists.

Millions Of Iraqis Have Risked Their Lives To Secure A Democratic Future For Their Nation, And America Will Not Abandon Them In Their Hour Of Need. The vast majority of Iraq's citizens want to live in peace, and they are showing their courage every day.

  • In October 2005, Iraqi voters approved a new permanent constitution.
  • In December 2005, nearly 12 million Iraqis braved car bombers and assassins to choose a permanent government in free elections under the new constitution.
  • In April 2006, Iraqi leaders announced agreement on the top leadership posts for a national government uniting Sunni, Shiite, and Kurd, led by President Jalal Talabani and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
  • In November 2006, an Iraqi Court convicted and sentenced Saddam Hussein for the massacres committed by his regime in the town of Dujayl. The former dictator was put to death in December 2006.

Our New Strategy Builds On What Has Proven To Work And Corrects For What Has Not Worked In Iraq. It specifically accounts for the heightened levels of sectarian violence seen over the course of 2006 and is designed to help Iraqis defeat extremists from all communities and provide the space necessary for advancing meaningful political reconciliation.

No commentary from me on this.

Feel free to leave your comments in the comment section.

Also from the White House Website: The President's Radio Address:

THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. In times of war, Congress has no greater obligation than funding our war fighters. And next week, the House will begin debate on an emergency war spending bill.

The purpose of this legislation should be to give our troops on the front lines the resources, funds, and equipment they need to fight our enemies. Unfortunately, some in Congress are using this bill as an opportunity to micromanage our military commanders, force a precipitous withdrawal from Iraq, and spend billions on domestic projects that have nothing to do with the war on terror.

Our troops urgently need Congress to approve emergency war funds. Over the past several weeks, our Nation has begun pursuing a new strategy in Iraq. Under the leadership of General David Petraeus, our troops have launched a difficult and dangerous mission to help Iraqis secure their capital. This plan is still in its early stages, yet we're already seeing signs of progress. Iraqi and American troops have rounded up more than 700 people affiliated with Shia extremists. They've also launched aggressive operations against Sunni extremists. And they've uncovered large caches of weapons that could have been used to kill our troops. These are hopeful signs. As these operations unfold, they will help the Iraqi government stabilize the country, rebuild the economy, and advance the work of political reconciliation. Yet the bill Congress is considering would undermine General Petraeus and the troops under his command just as these critical security operations are getting under way.

First, the bill would impose arbitrary and restrictive conditions on the use of war funds and require the withdrawal of forces by the end of this year if these conditions are not met. These restrictions would handcuff our generals in the field by denying them the flexibility they need to adjust their operations to the changing situation on the ground. And these restrictions would substitute the mandates of Congress for the considered judgment of our military commanders.

Even if every condition required by this bill was met, all American forces -- except for very limited purposes -- would still be required to withdraw next year, regardless of the situation in Iraq. The consequences of imposing such an artificial timetable would be disastrous.

Here is what Secretary of Defense Robert Gates recently told Congress: Setting a fixed date to withdraw would "essentially tell [the enemy] how long they would have to wait until we're gone." If American forces were to step back from Baghdad before it is more secure, the scale and scope of attacks would increase and intensify. A contagion of violence could spill out across the entire country, and in time, this violence would engulf the region. The enemy would emerge from the chaos emboldened with new safe havens, new recruits, new resources, and an even greater determination to harm America. Such an outcome would be a nightmare for our country.

Second, the bill would cut funding for the Iraqi security forces if Iraqi leaders did not meet rigid conditions set by Congress. This makes no sense. Members of Congress have often said that the Iraqis must step forward and take more responsibility for their own security -- and I agree. Yet Members of Congress can't have it both ways: They can't say that the Iraqis must do more and then take away the funds that will help them do so. Iraq is a young democracy that is fighting for its survival in a region that is vital to American security. To cut off support for their security forces at this critical moment would put our own security at risk.

Third, the bill would add billions of dollars in domestic spending that is completely unrelated to the war. For example, the House bill would provide $74 million for peanut storage, $48 million for the Farm Service Agency, and $35 million for NASA. These programs do not belong in an emergency war spending bill. Congress must not allow debate on domestic spending to delay funds for our troops on the front lines. And Members should not use funding our troops as leverage to pass special interest spending for their districts.

We are a Nation at war, and the heaviest responsibilities fall to our troops in the field. Yet we in Washington have responsibilities, as well. General Petraeus was confirmed by the Senate without a single vote in opposition, and he and his troops need these resources to succeed in their mission. Many in Congress say they support the troops, and I believe them. Now they have a chance to show that support in deed, as well as in word. Congress needs to approve emergency funding for our troops, without strings and without delay. If they send me a bill that does otherwise, I will veto it.

Thank you for listening.


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