BAGHDAD, Iraq – Iraqi politicians on both side of the sectarian divide saw little new in U.S. President George W. Bush's State of the Union address in which he urged critics to give his plan to increase American troops in Iraq a chance, saying a political solution also is needed to quell the violence in Iraq.
"Bush has not come up with anything new and it gives no real hope for ordinary Iraqis," Sunni lawmaker Hussein al-Falluji said. "Bush said that sending more troops might solve the security problem, but I think it will not curb the violence for a long time because the problem is not only military, it is more political and about foreign interference."
However, al-Falluji welcomed Bush's warning that Shiite extremists backed by Iran against Sunni extremists aided by Al Qaeda and supporters of Saddam Hussein's government could lead to violence that could spread across the Middle East.
• Photo Essay: State of the Union Address
Bush "also talked about the Iranian role in igniting violence and this means that he is now closer to understand the origin of the problem," al-Falluji said.
The U.S. administration accuses the Shiite theocracy in Tehran of helping stoke the violence in predominantly Shiite Iraq. Sunnis, who were dominant under Saddam Hussein but lost power after his ouster and have led the insurgency, have also made that accusation.
A lawmaker with radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's bloc also urged a political solution.
"Bush's speech still contained the logic of force and destruction instead of the logic of dialogue and political solutions," Sadrist lawmaker Falah Hassan said. "I believe that the U.S. administration should adopt the speech of peace instead of the speech of soldiers."
The extra U.S. troops are being sent to aide the Iraqis as Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has promised to crack down equally on Sunni insurgents and Shiite militias such as the Mahdi Army that is loyal to al-Sadr and has been blamed for much of the sectarian violence in Baghdad.
"The U.S. Army should not take advantage of the new security plan in order to settle old scores with some Iraqi political groups," said Hassan, whose bloc has called for the withdrawal of U.S. forces. "Bush should understand that only the Iraqi people and Iraqi political groups can offer the best way to have a stable Iraq through dialogue. We do not want more foreign interference in Iraq's affairs. Bush should understand that the language of military power is a failure and he should resort to the speech of peace and reason."
Bush implored a skeptical Congress in his speech on Tuesday to embrace his unpopular plan to send more U.S. troops to Iraq, saying it represents the best hope in a war America must not lose. "Give it a chance to work," he said.
His speech was aired live at 5 a.m. local time on Iraqi state television and Arab satellite channels.
Democrats — and even some Republicans — scoffed at his Iraq policy. Unmoved by Bush's appeal, Democrats said the House and Senate would vote on resolutions of disapproval of the troop buildup.
Click here to read Bush's 2007 State of the Union initiatives.