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Bush to offer $1bn in aid and 20,000 troops to Iraq
by UK Independent (reposted)
Monday Jan 8th, 2007 7:33 AM
Iraqi troops are mounting a concerted effort to restore peace to the streets of Baghdad as President George Bush prepares to unveil his new strategy for the country. But despite their efforts at least 14 people were killed yesterday in a series of bombings and shootings.

President Bush is widely expected to order as many as 20,000 new US combat troops to Baghdad in a renewed "push" against the insurgents. The troops will be based in Baghdad and Anbar province with a back-up force in Kuwait.

The US is also planning to pump up to $1bn (£500m) into Iraq's shattered economy to boost morale. The details of the plan - from painting schools to cleaning streets - have a ring of earlier failed initiatives launched with high hopes by the US military.

Mr Bush's high-risk strategy is being unveiled amid deep unease in Washington about the Iraqi Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki.

The guards who taunted and abused Saddam Hussein at his execution have been linked to Muqtada al-Sadr, the Shia militia leader and a supporter of Mr Maliki. "If that's an indication of how Maliki is operating these days, we've got a deeper problem with the bigger effort," a senior US official told The New York Times.

The plan also puts Mr Bush on a collision course with the leaders of the new Democratic Congress. The leadership told him by letter on Friday that the US needs to move instead to a phased withdrawal of American troops, to begin in the next four months.

Mr Bush is expected to address the country on Wednesday and to describe the plan as a joint effort by the US and Iraq to reclaim the control of Baghdad. The "push" in Baghdad is extremely unpopular domestically for the President and is scheduled to last for no more than a year.

by UK Guardian (reposted)
Monday Jan 8th, 2007 7:34 AM
President George Bush will this week announce a renewed reconstruction package for Iraq costing up to $1bn (£500m) and a fresh push by a reinforced Iraqi army to quell the insurgency in Baghdad to sweeten the pill of his decision to dispatch up to 20,000 more US soldiers to the fray.

Mr Bush's determination to reject the advice of the Baker-Hamilton review, which recommended a gradual withdrawal, continues to cause deep unease both in military and Congressional circles.

In a speech on Wednesday, Mr Bush will give details of a deal thrashed out last week between him and the Iraqi prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki, in which the US troop increase of up to five combat brigades, on top of the 130,000 personnel already on the ground, would be matched by a rise in Iraqi army numbers.

Three more Iraqi brigades are to be sent to Baghdad over the next weeks. Two of those brigades will be made up of peshmerga fighters from the Kurdish north of the country, which is likely to prompt questions about their effectiveness. Kurdish leaders have shown a desire to remain outside the sectarian violence escalating between Sunni and Shia communities to the south.

The other sweetener will be a doubling of reconstruction efforts. Up to $1bn is to be spent on a programme in which Iraqis are employed to clean the streets and repair and paint schools.