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Bush Faces Mounting Pressure to Change Iraq Strategy


President Bush is facing mounting pressure to change his Iraq policy as the U.S. Senate begins debate on military spending priorities. The pressure is not just coming from opposition Democrats, but from some senior Republican lawmakers who have publicly abandoned the Bush administration's current strategy in Iraq. VOA's Bill Rodgers reports.

Democrats in the Senate plan to introduce a series of anti-war amendments to try to force the administration to change its strategy in Iraq. The amendments are expected to include measures to cut off funding for combat operations after April of next year and to impose new readiness requirements for U.S. troops.

Senate Majority leader Harry Reid says the mission needs to change. "No one is calling for a precipitous withdrawal from Iraq, no one. I say that this is a situation where there has to be a change in policy."

The move comes as senior Republican senators -- such as Pete Domenici of New Mexico -- have broken with the administration over its Iraq policy.

"I'm unwilling to continue our current strategy when the Iraqi government fails to advance the interests of the Iraqi people," Senator Domenici said.

The growing pressure is reportedly causing an internal debate at the White House over whether Mr. Bush should try to prevent more Republican defections by announcing a gradual withdrawal of U.S. troops from parts of Baghdad and other cities.

But White House spokesman Tony Snow on Monday dismissed that possibility. "No, there's no plan. Again, ultimately, the president wants to withdraw troops based on the facts on the ground, not on the matter of politics."

The administration is scheduled to provide a report to Congress by July 15th on the progress the Iraqi government is making. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has cancelled a trip to Latin America to work on the report.

In Iraq, a top official warned that a quick withdrawal of U.S. troops could lead to civil war. Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said Iraqi troops are not ready to police the country on their own.

Meanwhile, there were more bombings in Baghdad neighborhoods Monday -- and more casualties. The continuing violence frustrates many Iraqis.

One Iraqi said, "I swear by God we are fed up with this situation. The government needs to find a solution to such problems."

Violence in Iraq in recent days has killed more than 250 people, and left scores of others wounded.

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