The chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Richard Myers, says it is important that the Sunni population in Iraq be brought into the political process to help defeat the violent insurgency and rebuild the country.
General Myers told reporters at the Pentagon that the winning strategy in Iraq is to continue fighting the insurgency to create an environment that will allow the political process to move forward.
America's top general added Iraq's Sunni population, which held political power during the reign of Saddam Hussein and is considered the main source behind the insurgency, needs to believe it has a positive future.
"People are working very hard to make sure the Sunnis do see a political future in Iraq and a future for them," said General Myers, "and that is very important, I think, to progress on all fronts, economic, and security and so forth, it is very important."
General Myers' remarks came as Iraq's political leaders continue to negotiate details of a new constitution with the hope that proposed compromises will lead to at least some support within the Sunni population.
The general said such support will help convince more people to reject the insurgency and support the Iraqi government.
"Sunni inclusion in the political process is going to help with this insurgency," he said, "because the fence sitters [people who are undecided] will see their future with the new Iraq and not with the old Saddam Hussein regime or whatever the cause is."
Iraqis are currently scheduled to vote on a new constitution in October, and during a separate briefing a senior U.S. commander in the country said there is growing confidence that the referendum and elections scheduled for December will be successful.
But Army Major General Joseph Taluto also predicted violence will increase in Sunni-dominated areas as the election approaches.
"We expect that the enemies will increase their attacks, particularly as we run up to the referendum," he said. "The divergent groups all have their own strategies and they select a time for these attacks. But they go up and then we will have a week or two where the attacks will go down, and they seem to re-arm themselves and then re-attack."
When asked why the U.S.-led military coalition has been unable thus far to defeat the insurgents, General Taluto said progress is being made and it is not widely recognized that troops stop many attacks before they can be executed.