The U.S. Government Accountability Office, an independent investigative arm of Congress, has released a report that criticizes the Bush Administration's strategy for success in Iraq. Meanwhile, U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad acknowledged what he described as "significant" sectarian violence there, but rejected suggestions that the country is in the midst of a civil war.
The Government Accountability Office issued a report Tuesday saying the U.S. government's strategy for stabilizing Iraq does address security, political and economic objectives in Iraq, but does not adequately or effectively describe how to achieve those goals.
Top GAO official David Walker told a congressional hearing other concerns about the Bush strategy involve how U.S. interests match Iraqi and international interests. "It does not fully address how U.S. goals and objectives will be integrated with those of the Iraqi government and with the international community. And, further, it does not detail the Iraqi government's anticipated contribution to its future security and reconstruction needs," he said.
Meanwhile, across town, the U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, acknowledged there is ongoing violence there, but said he would not define the chaos as a civil war. "There is a sectarian conflict, focused in Baghdad right now. But the state institutions are holding. The leaders of the different communities are in the government. They've said they want to stay in the government," he said.
The U.S. military death toll from the Iraq war stands at more than 2,500 casualties. Meanwhile, attacks in and around Baghdad also continue to kill scores of Iraqi security forces and civilians, including at least 30 people on Tuesday.
Khalilzad rejected calls for U.S. troops to immediately withdraw and warned that what he called a precipitous departure from Iraq could be destabilizing for the region and for the world. He said the United States is already in Iraq, and so should be responsible for helping to usher in some sort of positive finish. "We have to do everything that we can, as good people, thinking about our own future and the future of the world, and the future of Iraqis, that we have played a role in this, that we do what we can to have a good end in terms of what we have started," he said.
He said there are several positive developments that should give Americans optimism about prospects for a more stable Iraq. First of all, he pointed to the greater political participation of Sunni Muslims, who make up about 40 percent of Iraq's population and who had boycotted elections in January 2005. He added that some insurgent groups have asked the Iraqi government to provide them with arms, so they can fight the foreign terrorists.