The recent increase in violence in Iraq has some analysts calling for more U.S. troops to be sent to the country and expressing concern about the planned handover of power to an interim Iraqi government June 30. The analysts appeared Wednesday before the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and correspondent.
During the second of three days of hearings on Iraq, members of the U.S. Senate were told there are too few troops in the country to provide adequate security for the Iraqi people.
Ken Pollack is the director of research for the Saban Center for Middle East Policy in Washington. Mr. Pollack told the committee that the recent upsurge of bloodshed in Iraq proves the United States and its allies do not have enough soldiers to pacify insurgent groups.
"This month has been more than just a bad month," he said. "The events of this month are a warning. They are a warning that all is not well in Iraq and that if the United States does not make some major course corrections quickly, worse will likely follow. For this reason, I hope that the events of this month will serve as a wake-up call to those in Washington and Baghdad charged with the reconstruction of Iraq."
Retired General George Joulwan, the former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO, testified that without a secure situation any interim Iraqi government that accepts power on June 30 will have to deal with the same violence now plaguing coalition soldiers.
General Joulwan said that security is the primary requirement for a successful handover of power, and added that it should have been the number one priority since the end of the war a year ago.
"A secure environment includes sealing the borders, preventing lawlessness, disarming remnants of the defeated military and demobilizing the enemy's security forces," he said. "Those actions are critical in the follow on to the end of major hostilities. If that was not a clear objective of our civilian and political leaders, it should have been. The resources required to do so should have been provided, whatever the cost. We did not do so then, we must do so now or there truly is a high probability of a civil war rather than a civil society in Iraq."
Ahmed Hashim is a professor of strategic studies at the U.S. Naval War College. He said that the Coalition Provisional Authority made a major mistake by disbanding the Iraqi army after the war.
Mr. Hashim said the insurgents are becoming more proficient and their tactics, techniques and procedures more lethal because former Iraqi military personnel are now more involved in fighting allied soldiers.
"We are faced with a phenomenon that is bigger and more dangerous than a small band of thugs and extremists, but is somewhat less than full, national insurgency," he explained. "We are closer to the latter than the former. Our task is to roll back any dynamic progression of the insurgency. That task should begin now, before the transfer of sovereignty. But it does not end with the transfer of sovereignty. It will take a long time."
All of the witnesses that testified called on the Pentagon to send more troops to Iraq as soon as possible. U.N. envoy Lakhdar Brahimi has been in the region working on a formula for the handover of Iraqi sovereignty on June 30. U.N. officials have indicated a reluctance to return significant numbers of staff to Iraq because of the continuing bloodshed.