The White House, Office of the Press Secretary
March 18, 2007
Four Years Later: New Strategy Requires Patience and Determination
In Focus: Renewal in Iraq
On The Fourth Anniversary Of The Beginning Of Operation Iraqi Freedom, The Regime Of A Brutal Dictator Has Been Replaced By A Democratically Elected Government Operating Under One Of The Most Progressive Constitutions In The Arab World. While there is much work to be done, there are encouraging signs of progress.
Achieving Our Goals Will Require Patience And Determination
Iraqi Security Forces Are Stepping Up To Take Control Of Their Country's Security. Iraqi Security Forces continue to gain strength and are fighting alongside Coalition forces. Their commitment and sacrifice are real: Casualty levels for Iraqi Security Forces are now higher than for Coalition forces.
- Iraq is now operating 9 National Police brigades and 31 Iraqi Army brigades, meaning almost 329,000 Iraqi Security Force members are now risking their lives to secure their country and allow political progress to continue.
- 9 of Iraq's 10 Army divisions are taking the lead in their areas of operation.
- 3 of Iraq's 18 provinces have acquired full responsibility for their own security.
- Iraqi-planned, Iraqi-conducted, and, most important of all, Iraqi-led missions continue throughout Iraq.
Iraqis Are Beginning To Meet Benchmarks To Achieve Political Reconciliation.
- In February 2007, Iraq's Council of Ministers approved a national hydrocarbon law that provides for an equitable distribution of oil revenues throughout the country. It now needs to be approved by the Council of Representatives and then implemented.
- Last month, the Iraqi government also approved a $41 billion budget that includes $10 billion for reconstruction and capital investment and $7.3 billion for development of Iraqi Security Forces and security related expenses.
- Iraq's leaders must meet the other pledges they have made. These include:
1) Narrowing the limitations of the de-Baathification law;
2) Establishing the framework and setting a date for provincial elections; and
3) Continuing to pursue the constitutional review process: The Constitutional Review Committee, with representation from all major political blocs and technical assistance from the United Nations, is now working and is likely to present potential amendments to parliament in the next two months.
On March 12, 2007, Iraq Convened A Regional Conference Of Thirteen Nations, Including Neighboring Countries And The U.S., As Well As The United Nations, The Islamic Conference, And The Arab League. Conference attendees discussed issues of common concern regarding Iraq and agreed to form working groups on border security, fuel imports, and refugees. They plan to hold another regional meeting at the ministerial level in April, which U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will attend.
On July 27, 2006, Iraq And The UN Announced The Formal Launch Of The International Compact With Iraq. This Compact, jointly shared by the Government of Iraq and the United Nations, with the support of the World Bank, will bring together the international community and multilateral organizations over five years to help Iraq implement key reforms and grow fully integrated into the international economic community.
- On March 16, 2007, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon Urged Representatives From Over 90 Countries To Back The Compact. Representatives at this meeting closed the text of the Compact and are now moving on to the formal signing and implementation stage.
The New Way Forward In Iraq
In January, President Bush Announced A New Strategy For Iraq. This strategy has as its top priority reducing violence in Baghdad, to give Iraqi leaders the breathing room they need to make political progress. It gives our troops the reinforcements they need, and it demands more from Iraq's elected government. We have seen tangible progress, but this is work that will not be accomplished in days or weeks - it requires a sustained course of action over many months. The strategy includes:
- Establishing More Than 45 "Joint Security Stations" Throughout Baghdad. These stations are neighborhood outposts where U.S. and Iraqi forces are jointly deployed 24 hours a day to secure the population, provide emergency aid to local communities, and gather information to root out extremist networks throughout the capital.
- Stepping Up Training The Iraqi Army And Police - So We Can Help Ensure That The Iraqi Forces Are Capable Of Providing The Security That Iraq Needs.
- Ordering Reinforcements Of More Than 20,000 Combat Forces To Iraq. The vast majority of these troops will go to Baghdad. Two of the five additional American combat brigades we committed to this fight are now in place and involved in operations with their Iraqi counterparts. The flow and movement of the third brigade to Kuwait has begun, and troops continue to arrive every day.
- Enhancing Our Civilian And Diplomatic Efforts. As our military reinforces its mission in the greater Baghdad area and Anbar province, a complementary effort is underway on the civilian side in the form of a joint Defense Department and State Department initiative to double the number of Provincial Reconstruction Teams in Iraq, with a primary focus on Baghdad and Anbar province. The first wave of civilian volunteers has completed training and will deploy to Iraq by the end of this month.
Implementing This Strategy Will Require Sustained Action Over Many Months, But We Have Already Seen Progress.
- The Iraqi government has completed the deployment of three additional Iraqi Army brigades to the capital. These additional forces join the nine National Police and seven Iraqi Army brigades already in the Greater Baghdad area.
- Prime Minister Maliki has affirmed that there will be no political interference in security operations. Iraq's leaders have lifted restrictions on Iraqi and Coalition forces that prevented them from going into certain areas, and U.S. and Iraqi troops are now pursuing the enemy in neighborhoods like Sadr City, where operations were once restricted.
- About half of the planned joint security stations have been established in neighborhoods across Baghdad.
- Iraqi and U.S. forces have rounded up hundreds of people affiliated with violent extremist groups, discovered and destroyed weapons production facilities, and recovered large weapons caches, including mortar weapons systems and rocket-propelled grenades.
- Iraqi and U.S. forces have launched successful operations against Sunni extremists.
- Sectarian killings have been lower in Baghdad over the past several weeks than in the previous month.
- Two major car bomb factories have been destroyed on the outskirts of Baghdad.
- Several trucks equipped with heavy machine guns used for engaging Coalition aircraft have been destroyed.
- In Anbar province, a number of Sunni tribes have begun to unite against extremists, providing a new wave of Iraqi recruits to join the fight against the terrorists.
Millions Of Iraqis Have Risked Their Lives To Secure A Democratic Future For Their Nation, And America Will Not Abandon Them In Their Hour Of Need. The vast majority of Iraq's citizens want to live in peace, and they are showing their courage every day.
- In October 2005, Iraqi voters approved a new permanent constitution.
- In December 2005, nearly 12 million Iraqis braved car bombers and assassins to choose a permanent government in free elections under the new constitution.
- In April 2006, Iraqi leaders announced agreement on the top leadership posts for a national government uniting Sunni, Shiite, and Kurd, led by President Jalal Talabani and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
- In November 2006, an Iraqi Court convicted and sentenced Saddam Hussein for the massacres committed by his regime in the town of Dujayl. The former dictator was put to death in December 2006.
Our New Strategy Builds On What Has Proven To Work And Corrects For What Has Not Worked In Iraq. It specifically accounts for the heightened levels of sectarian violence seen over the course of 2006 and is designed to help Iraqis defeat extremists from all communities and provide the space necessary for advancing meaningful political reconciliation.