By Steven Donald Smith
American Forces Press Service
Jan. 13, 2007 – For the new U.S. strategy in Iraq to succeed, Iraqis must work in concert with American military forces toward ending sectarian violence, President Bush said today during his weekly radio address. "Their leaders understand this, and they are stepping forward to do it," the president said. "But they need our help, and it is in our interests to provide that help."
Bush said ending sectarian violence and providing security for the Iraqi people would help foster a political solution to the country's problems. During a Jan. 10 televised address to the nation, the president laid out a new strategy to help Iraq's fledgling democratic government. He said 20,000 additional U.S. troops will be inserted into Baghdad and Anbar province, and the Iraqi government will deploy 18 Iraqi army and national police brigades across Baghdad's nine districts.
Bush acknowledged during his radio address that 2006 was a difficult year in Iraq and ongoing sectarian violence is making progress there difficult. "The terrorists and insurgents fought to reverse the extraordinary democratic gains the Iraqis have made," he said.
In February, extremists bombed the holy Shia Golden Mosque in Samarra in an effort to provoke reprisals that would set off a sectarian conflict, he said.
The changes in U.S. strategy in Iraq would help the Iraqis in four main areas, the president explained. First, U.S. forces will help the Iraqis secure Baghdad. This is vital because 80 percent of Iraq's sectarian violence occurs within 30 miles of the capital city, he said.
"The new plan to secure Baghdad fixes the problems that prevented previous operations from succeeding," he said. "This time, there will be adequate Iraqi and U.S. forces to hold the areas that have been cleared."
Iraqi and U.S. forces will have a "green light" to enter areas that are home to those fueling sectarian violence, he said, and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has pledged that political or sectarian interference with security operations will not be tolerated.
Second, U.S. forces will step up the fight against al Qaeda in its home base of Anbar province. Because local tribal leaders in Iraq recently began to show their willingness to take on al Qaeda, U.S. military commanders believe now is a good opportunity to deal a serious blow to the terrorists, Bush said.
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