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Iraq war escalation to last into next year : Washington ups pressure on Iran, Syria
WASHINGTON, March 13—The U.S. military’s head of operations in Iraq recommended March 7 that the increased numbers of U.S. troops now flowing into that country stay through February 2008. The proposal came just a few days after U.S. president George Bush approved sending 8,200 additional soldiers to Iraq and Afghanistan. These troops are in addition to the 21,500 soldiers Bush announced in January he would dispatch, in the biggest escalation of the imperialist war since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.
At the same time, U.S. diplomats used a March 10 “regional summit” in Baghdad with representatives of neighboring states, and of the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, to press Washington’s charge that Tehran and Damascus are aiding Shiite- and Sunni-led militias fighting for a bigger share of power in the Iraqi government.
Here in Washington Democrats continue to posture in “opposition” to the war. Their latest charade is to attach amendments to a $100 billion supplemental bill on war spending that would also set Sept. 1, 2008—two months before the next U.S. presidential election—as the date for withdrawing combat troops from Iraq. As with previous proposals of this type, it faces substantial opposition from within both parties.
Bush approved the additional troops to Iraq and Afghanistan during his Latin America tour. They include 4,700 "support troops" to Iraq, of whom 2,200 of these are military cops in anticipation of more arrests of Iraqis. A brigade of 3,500 will go to Afghanistan. That would bring the number of U.S. troops in Iraq to 145,000 and in Afghanistan to 30,000.
At the regional summit in Baghdad, Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki urged neighboring states to stop financing attacks and funneling weapons across their borders to Iraqi militias. Iraq’s foreign minister, Hoshyar Zebari, said the states Maliki was referring to were represented at the summit. Only the governments of Iran and Syria have been accused by Washington and Baghdad of interfering militarily.