News

    Middle East Analysts Skeptical About New Iraq War Strategy

    Middle East analysts are expressing skepticism about President Bush's new strategy to win the war in Iraq, saying his decision to send more than 20,000 additional U.S. troops may not end the violence in Baghdad and western Anbar province.  They also question whether the Iraqi government is capable of meeting the commitments the plan calls on them to make.  VOA correspondent Meredith Buel has more in this background report from Washington.

    Kenneth Pollack is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution who specializes in political and military affairs.  He says he supports President Bush's decision to send more U.S. troops to Iraq in an effort to secure Baghdad and fight al-Qaida-backed insurgents in Anbar province.

    Pollack considers the plan the last chance to prevent catastrophic failure in Iraq, but he fears it may not have come in time.

    "Today it may just be too late," he said.  "We just don't know.  Iraq is in a very difficult situation.  Its government is completely locked up in a horrible political logjam.  There are all kinds of very bad things happening on the ground and we just don't know if even the perfect plan, executed by the most brilliant personnel, with all of the resources that they need, can still work."

    The Iraqi government has promised to send more security forces to Baghdad and make political moves in an effort to reconcile bitter divisions threatening to split the country along sectarian lines.

    These include passage of long-delayed legislation to share oil revenues among Iraq's ethnic groups and a $10 billion reconstruction and jobs program to be financed by Iraq's government.

    Phebe Marr, a historian of modern Iraq at the U.S. Institute of Peace, says the government in Baghdad has failed to meet its promises to quell sectarian violence in the past, and questions whether it can fulfill such commitments in the future.

    "Iraq is very far from achieving a new government that works and the collapse we are witnessing is likely to get worse before it gets better," she said.  "Only when the participants in Iraq recognize in this struggle for power that they are losing more than they can gain by continuing it, will it come to an end."

    U.S. military leaders say a critical difference in the plan Mr. Bush announced is that Iraqi commanders have pledged to fight all criminal elements and militias, regardless of whether they represent Sunni or Shi'ite Muslims.

    Michael O'Hanlon, a senior fellow in foreign policy studies at the Brookings Institution, says the militias are responsible for the most dangerous violence in Iraq.

    "Right now it is the militias and the death squads that are driving the ethnic cleansing and the movement towards a breakup of Iraq," he said.  "The question pretty soon is going to be whether we try to manage that process or let the militias alone drive it because it is happening.  One-hundred-thousand people a month are being driven from their homes.  Iraq looks like Bosnia more and more."

    President Bush continues to reject calls to reach out diplomatically to Iraq's neighbors, particularly Syria and Iran.  Mr. Bush accuses both countries of allowing insurgents to cross their borders with Iraq, and has charged Iran with providing material support for attacks on U.S. troops.

    The president has ordered the deployment of an additional U.S. aircraft carrier group to the region and has decided to deploy Patriot anti-missile systems to nearby allies.

    Martin Indyk, the director of the Saban Center for Middle East Policy, says such moves send a pointed message to the Tehran government.

    "We are signaling to Iran, not that we want them to help us in Iraq, but we see them as the enemy in Iraq and we intend now to take them on," he said.

    It will take months before all the additional U.S. soldiers arrive in Iraq, but Michael O'Hanlon of the Brookings Institution warns that for practical and political reasons the new strategy must show results in a short period of time.

    "For the reasons across the spectrum, from military capability of our Army and Marine Corps, to the patience of our people, to the upcoming presidential race and everything else, our patience for sticking with anything like this strategy is very limited and it is probably measured in terms of nine to 18 months, not years," he added.

    Historian Phebe Marr of the U.S. Institute of Peace predicts it will take many years before there is a definitive outcome to the war in Iraq.

    "Given the grievous mistakes made on all sides, this process is going to be very costly and time consuming and no one should expect a clear outcome in the next two years, probably even in the next decade," she noted.

    Polls say U.S. public support for the war has dropped and Americans are increasingly pessimistic about the chances for success in Iraq.

    Administration officials say President Bush is taking the "long view" of the situation, which might differ from popular sentiment.

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roari
    X
    June 28, 2016 10:33 AM
    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video New York Pride March A Celebration of Life, Mourning of Loss

    At this year’s march in New York marking the end of pride week, a record-breaking crowd of LGBT activists and allies marched down Manhattan's Fifth Avenue, in what will be long remembered as a powerful display of solidarity and remembrance for the 49 victims killed two weeks ago in an Orlando gay nightclub.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora