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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
April 10, 2008
Fact Sheet: The Way Forward in Iraq
President Bush Accepts Recommendations To Assess Decreased Troop Presence On The Ground Before Making Additional Reductions To U.S. Forces
Today, President Bush announced that after detailed discussions with the Secretaries of State and Defense and Joint Chiefs of Staff he is accepting General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker's recommendations on the way ahead in Iraq. General Petraeus reported that security conditions have improved enough to withdraw all five surge brigades by the end of July. This is a 25 percent decrease of U.S. combat brigades in Iraq from the year before. General Petraeus has explained that he then will need time to consolidate his forces and assess the reduced U.S. presence on the ground before making measured recommendations on further reductions.
To Assume More Responsibility For The Welfare Of Their People And The Fate Of Their Country, Iraqis Are Stepping Forward On The Security, Economic, Political, And Diplomatic Fronts
Iraq's economy will increasingly move away from American assistance, rely on private investment, and stand on its own. In their recent budget, Iraqis would outspend the United States on reconstruction by more than 10 to one, and American funding for large-scale reconstruction projects is approaching zero. The U.S. share of Iraq's security costs will drop as well, as Iraqis pay for the vast majority of their own Army and Police. Ultimately, we expect Iraq to shoulder the full burden of these costs.
The U.S. will help Iraqis build on the security gains made during the surge. Currently, U.S. Special Forces are launching multiple operations every night to capture or kill al Qaeda's remaining leaders in Iraq. Coalition and Iraqi forces are also stepping up conventional operations against al Qaeda in northern Iraq, where terrorists have concentrated after being largely pushed from central and western Iraq.
On the political front, Iraq has seen bottom-up progress. Tribes and other groups in the provinces who fought terror are now turning to rebuilding local political structures and taking charge of their own affairs. Progress in the provinces is leading to progress in Baghdad, as Iraqi leaders increasingly act together, share power, and forge compromises on behalf of the nation. Upcoming elections will consolidate this progress and provide a way for Iraqis to settle disputes through the political process instead of through violence. Iraqis plan to hold provincial elections later this year, and these will be followed by national elections in 2009.
Iraq will increase its engagement in the world and the world must increase its engagement with Iraq. A stable, successful, and independent Iraq is in the strategic interests of Arab nations and all who want peace in the Middle East, and we will urge them to increase their support this year.
Improvements In Security Have Helped Clear The Way For Political And Economic Developments In Iraq
U.S. and Iraqi forces have made significant progress bringing down sectarian violence, restoring basic security to Iraqi communities and driving terrorists out of their safe havens. Neighborhoods once controlled by al Qaeda have been liberated. Sectarian violence is down dramatically, and civilian and military deaths are also down. Cooperation from Iraqis is stronger than ever they are providing more tips, more Iraqis are joining their security forces, and there is a growing movement against al-Qaeda called the "Sons of Iraq."
Improvements in security have helped clear the way for the political and economic developments. At the local level, businesses are re-opening and provincial councils are meeting. At the national level, there is much work ahead, but the Iraqi government has passed a budget and three major "benchmark" laws. The national government is sharing oil revenues with provinces, and many economic indicators in Iraq from oil production to inflation are now pointed in the right direction.
Our National Interests Require Success In Iraq
Success in Iraq would bring us closer to our most important goal making the American people safer here at home. Success in Iraq would give the U.S. a new partner with a growing economy and a democratic political system in which Sunnis, Shia, and Kurds all work together for the good of their country. It would demonstrate to a watching world that mainstream Arabs reject the ideology of al Qaeda, and mainstream Shia reject the ideology of Iran's radical regime, and deliver a historic blow to the global terrorist movement and a severe setback for Iran.
Failure in Iraq would diminish our Nation's standing, undermine national security, lead to massive humanitarian casualties, and increase the threat of another terrorist attack on our homeland. If we fail in Iraq, al Qaeda would claim a propaganda victory of colossal proportions, and they could gain safe havens in Iraq from which to attack the United States and our friends and allies. Iran would seek to fill the vacuum in Iraq, which would embolden Tehran's radical leaders and fuel their ambitions to dominate the region. The Taliban in Afghanistan and al Qaeda in Pakistan would grow in confidence and boldness.
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