Iraq's Government Welcomes Bush's New Strategy

Iraq's government welcomed U.S. President George W. Bush's new strategy and promised it was committed to making sure it succeeds.

In the speech broadcast live on Iraqi state television, Bush said he was increasing U.S. troops by 21,500 — 17,500 to Baghdad, where much of the sectarian violence has been blamed on predominantly Shiite militias. The plan also envisions 10,000 to 12,000 Iraqi troops to secure Baghdad's neighborhoods.

"The failure in Iraq will not only affect this country only but the rest of the region and the world, including the United States," said Sadiq al-Rikabi, an adviser to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said.

"The current situation is not acceptable — not only for the American people but also for the Iraqis and their government. As Iraqis and as an elected government we welcome the American commitment for success," he added. "The Iraqi government also is committed to succeed."

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He also stressed the importance of the Iraqis taking the lead in military operations.

"The American plan cannot succeed without us because we work in the same field in order to defeat violence and terrorism and boost the democratic system," he said.

Shiite politician and former member of parliament Mariam al-Rayes also welcomed the new effort.

"He has found that his role now is to support this government especially after the government asked for more support and authorities,"she told the state-run Iraqiya station.

A Sunni lawmaker rejected the plan to send more troops, calling instead for a timetable for them to withdraw and for direct negotiations with insurgents.

"Bush's plan could be the last attempt to fix the chaos created after the invasion of Iraq. Yet, sending more troops will not end the problem, on the contrary, there will be more bloodshed," said Sunni lawmaker Hussein al-Falluji.

In the past, the Iraqi government has tried to prevent American military operations against the Mahdi Army, the militia loyal to radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, while giving U.S. forces a free hand against Sunni militants. The Bush administration has pushed al-Maliki to curb his militia allies or allow U.S. troops to do the job.

Senior officials in al-Sadr's group said they will not comment on the speech until their political council meets later Thursday to discuss Bush's statements.

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