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Bush Iraq speech. Correspondents reports from Iraq.

Posted by QB on January 11, 2007

CNN started its Bush speech coverage at 7.00 with Wolf Blitzer and Paula Zahn which ended with Anderson Cooper 360 which I watched until 11:30 PM and than went to bed. The following reports are interesting because it is giving very different perspective of what Bush said in his speech.

This is what Wolf Blitzer reported on Situation Room. In Iraq today, an influential group of Sunni Muslim scholars is blasting President Bush’s expected increase of troop levels in Iraq. The group warns that many of those troops will die, and even more innocent Iraqis will die, as well.

In Iraq, another day of car bombings, ambushes and bloodshed. Ten Iraqi Shiites returning from the Hajj in Saudi Arabia, the pilgrimage there, they were shot and killed near the Iraqi-Saudi border. Sixty bodies were found dumped around Baghdad.

And the U.S. military death toll since the start of the war has now climbed to 3,018.

CNN’s Ryan Chilcote. He’s in Baghdad. Report source cnn.com/situationroom.

RYAN CHILCOTE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, well, we start with the Iraqi military. The Iraqi military commanders that I’m speaking with certainly think that this might be a step in the right direction. They think that more U.S. troops on the streets of Baghdad, which is what they consider to be the center of gravity right now in the war, will be helpful. It will help, perhaps, clean up Baghdad from the militants.

They also think that it’s good that this new strategy includes going after the militias.

As for the Iraqi people, I think that many of them are hopeful but very skeptical. Keep in mind, they’ve seen three years of violence and they’ve seen that violence escalate over those last three years.

We also heard from at least one group that’s very influential among Iraq’s Sunni Arabs that make up about 20 percent of the population, the Association of Muslim Scholars. They don’t think it’s a good idea. They think it will only lead to more U.S. casualties there. Quite to the contrary, they’re saying that the U.S. should pull out.

We haven’t heard from any of the large — larger Shiite groups. But many of the Shiites here in Iraq will be skeptical of this. They’ve gotten used to their own militias providing security for them, like the Mahdi Army. They will not welcome a troop increase.

Finally, no one really thinks that this strategy will provide the answers, unless their government is able to win over their support, to win their trust. And, again, is in a Shiite led government, but it does not have that much support even among Iraq’s Shiites. And it has even less support among Iraq’s Sunni Arabs, that believe that this government is acting in a sectarian Shiite way and that it doesn’t have their interests in mind — Wolf.

This is what Ryan Chilcote reported on Lob Dobbs.

Ryan Chilcote reports from Baghdad.

Ryan, does anyone believe there that Prime Minister al-Maliki will actually crack down on the Shia radical Islamist terrorists?

RYAN CHILCOTE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I think you’ve hit the nail on the head. There is a lot of trust that the prime minister, who is a Shiite, is ready to go after the Sunni-Arab insurgents. There is not as much trust that the prime minister is ready to go after the Shiite insurgents, or the Shiite militias, as they’re called here.

This prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki, has been in power since the spring of 2006, and he has yet to go after those Shiite militias, yet. In fact, as you pointed out, back in October, he actually pulled U.S. troops back from an area of the city called Sadr City, where the largest Shiite militia operates. It’s called the Mehdi army.

Politically, keep in mind, this is very precarious, going after the Shiite militias, for this prime minister. His government is actually still allied at this point with the leader of that largest Shiite militia, the Mehdi army. So, he would have to change his political — the composition of his government if he really wants to do that.

Now, he — the Bush administration maintains that they have a pledge from the Iraqi prime minister that he is willing to go after the Shiite militias. But publicly, he has not said that he is ready to go after the Mehdi army — Lou.

DOBBS: The Mehdi army, which is led, of course, by Muqtada al- Sadr, who is also the sponsor and upon whom al-Maliki can base his good fortune, if you can call it that, to be the prime minister. There has been no indication whatsoever that he would back off from al-Sadr or that he would go after his militia.

How quickly could that operation be put into effect to disarm the militia in Sadr City?

CHILCOTE: Well, it would take a lot of planning and a lot of troops. And I think that Sadr City would not be the first place that the U.S. troops and the Iraqi troops would go.

You know, they have this Baghdad security plan which calls for them to go into all of the neighborhoods in the Iraq capital and disarm everyone, including the Mehdi army. But I would think that the — you know, the Iraqi commanders that I have been talking to, they suggest that that wouldn’t be the first place they’d want to go.

They’d want to amass their troops, the Iraqi troops. They need to bring three more brigades of Iraqi troops in, and they’d probably like to see some more of those U.S. troops on hand before they go after the Mehdi army, because they’re going to need a lot of troops to do it. It’s probably going to be a very big fight.

DOBBS: A very big fight. Is it one that the Iraqis have the stomach for?

CHILCOTE: It is questioned whether the Iraqi government has the stomach for it. I think a lot of the Iraqi people have the stomach for it. I think that the Iraqi army has the stomach for it.

I was just talking to the deputy chief of staff of the Iraqi army. He thinks that if they go in there with the U.S. troops, that the Mehdi army will run. Obviously, there a lot people who don’t think that. But it is — it is possible that we could see this. But even before we see a crackdown, we’re going to have to see some steps by the Iraqi government that suggests that this is even something that they’re ready to do.

For example, there are six members of the government right now from Sadr’s bloc, who leads the Mehdi army. You would think that the Iraqi government would want to get rid of those ministers before they go after the Mehdi army — Lou. Source : cnn.com/loudobbs

The most interesting report come from John Burns of New York Times on Anderson Cooper 360 last night.

Joining me now live from Baghdad, John Burns of “The New York Times”.

John, listening to the president’s speech, are you surprised by how much faith this president is putting in Prime Minister al-Maliki?

JOHN BURNS, “THE NEW YORK TIMES”: Exactly, yes. If I tell you, Anderson, that we’ve been hearing from Maliki’s people now for weeks that they did not want more American troops, because they felt that that would constrain them. That is to say the present Iraqi government in the use of the Iraqi army.

I think it gives you a hint as to what the direction of the president — of the government is.

I think that there are — there are profound reasons to believe that Mr. Maliki, a Shiite leader, a Shiite religious leader has a different agenda than President Bush does.

And that agenda involves pressing the Shiite sectarian interest rather than the unifying interest. Mr. Bush seems to be taking it to some extent on faith that Mr. Maliki will do now what he has promised and failed to do in for past eight months.

But I don’t see anything in the Bush plan that is going to compel or require Mr. Maliki to move away from his position of non- compliance, if you will, from the — from the past many months.

COOPER: It’s interesting you say that, because this White House just today, Dan Bartlett, spokesman for the president, was on all the morning shows, saying that essentially this is an Iraqi plan and the U.S. is just supporting it. You’re saying that basically this is not an Iraqi plan. If anything, this is different than what many in the Iraqi government want.

BURNS: I think it’s a very uncomfortable hybrid of both plans. Mr. Maliki went to Amman, the Jordanian capital, two months ago to tell Mr. Bush that he wanted control of this war and he wanted American troops out of Baghdad on the periphery.

He’s going to get at least nominal control of the war, but he’s going to get more American troops. And they’re going to be right in the heart of Baghdad, and they’re going to be watching very carefully what Mr. Maliki’s troops are going to be doing.

It seems to me, as I say, this is a very — a very uncomfortable marriage of two contending agendas. And it is far from clear to me how this is going to be made to work.

COOPER: Maliki made some statements today, saying essentially that they would go after these militias? Is that to be taken at face value? Can he go after these militias? Can he lessen the power of Muqtada al-Sadr? Can he disarm them?

BURNS: Well, if he did, it would be an about-face. He’s been saying that for months. He’s not saying anything different in the last few days than he said when he took office in May. But he just didn’t do it.

And when you look at the political arithmetic here, it’s not hard to see why he doesn’t. He depends on Muqtada al-Sadr, the most powerful of the Shiite militia leaders, for his position as prime minister. Thirty votes in parliament to keep him there as prime minister. Very difficult to see how he’s going to break with that.

And then you — behind that you have to know what Shiite politicians have been saying to us, people very closely associated with Mr. Maliki now, for quite a long time. They want the Americans to step aside, and they want history, as they see it, to take its course.

As one Shiite parliamentarian put it to us, the minority have to be allowed to lose, the minority being the Sunnis. The Shiites feel that it’s their turn in history and that they have to firmly establish their unchallengeable control.

Not at all what the Americans want. They want a unity government. They want far reaching concessions to Sunnis. Set out in the Bush plan, they want a new oil law. They want a militia law. They want a de-Ba’athification law that’s a lot more generous to Sunnis. Source : cnn.com/andersoncooper

The purpose of Bush speech was to get the support for his already lost war and again according to these reports he lied to American people. Maliki do not want additional troops, Sunnis don’t welcome additional troops, Shias don’t want additional troops, Gen. John Abizaid, Gen. Casey don’t want more American troops, majority of Americans infact 61% don’t want see the number of troops increase in Iraq, but still Bush worst tyrant than Saddam Hussein is going with his plan to increase the number of troops and escalate the war.

The other fact which is reported by independent media that the number of foreign fighters are in very small number but Bush again lied with straight face that they are fighting Al Qaeda (Al Qaida) in Iraq. According to independent media report Resistance is all Iraqis who are fighting the occupation troops for their real liberation.

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