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* Missed messages on Iran  Robert Kagan

* Envoy Condemns US Officials' Irresponsible Comments on Iran  News Report

* 'Israel will be destroyed if it attacks Iran'  News Report

* Warning of long war if Israel attacks Iran  News Report

* Iran unlikely to halt nuclear program, secret letters show  News Report

* Iran denies Ahmadi-Nejad was attacked  News Report

* Sanctions set stage for a new push on Iran  News Report

* اطلاعیۀ آیت الله منتطری دربارۀ حرام بودن مقاومت در برابر رأی مردم  Ali Behrooz

* لیست اسامی با حروف فارسی، تا تاریخ 08/09/08  Ali Behrooz

* War of words, or words of war  Ali Behrooz

* Could Israel use submarines against Iran?  News Report

* Iran deplores UAE claim on 3 islands  News Report

* 'Iran will respond to any attack'  News Report

* Carter to meet Hamas leadership in Cairo  News Report

* No Peace Without Hamas  News Report

* Ahmadinejad again voices Sept. 11 doubts  News Report

* Clinton, Obama tackle Iran issue in debate  News Report

* Bomb kills at least 9 in Iran mosque  News Report

* Iran demands Israel stop force threats  News Report

* Ahmadinejad to dismiss 2 cabinet ministers in Iran  News Report

* Iran: Naval encounter routine check  News Report

* Tony Blair's Palestine  News Report

* Clinton attacks Obama and McCain over Iraq  News Report

* Reza Pahlavi: Leadership for Democracy in Iran  News Report

* Petraeus: Return to 'pre-surge' troop levels, then wait  News Report

* Blast rocks US complex in Sanaa  News Report

* Clashes in Nile Delta after strike aborted  News Report

* When a great power goes mad  News Report

* Iranians defy censor with bootleg DVDs  News Report

* Putin says Iran is no threat  News Report

* Creating a US-Iran Bridge  News Report

* Court removes PKK from terror funds list  News Report

* 12 militants wanted by Israel flee Palestinian jail in West Bank after fight  News Report

* Limiting Tehran’s Influence?  Ali Behrooz

* UAE detains ship as grip on Tehran tightens  News Report

* Iranian critic not guilty of espionage  News Report

* Israelis and Palestinians pledge to reach peace pact by end of 2008  News Report

* Conference in Qom focuses on Iran-US challenges  News Report

* FM spokesman: Iran's plan on Iraq not put for voting  News Report

* Iran's top dissident cleric calls for U.S. talks  News Report

* Islamic militants take fight against Musharraf to 'Pakistan's Switzerland'  News Report

* 'Desperate' Musharraf declares martial law  News Report

* US Sanctions on Iran Leave Europeans in a Quandary  Sir Cyril Townsend

* After Thamilselvan  News Report

* Analysis: Is Abbas playing his cards right ahead of ME summit?  News Report

* Bahrain accuses Iran of nuclear weapons lie  News Report

* Senior Tamil Tiger leader killed  News Report

* US declares PKK 'a common enemy'  News Report

* Iran urged to join Gulf nuclear deal  News Report

* Iran's leaders need enemies like Bush, and at every turn he obliges them  News Report

* Giuliani hits Democrats on Iran  News Report

* Iran: We have no information on Arad  News Report

* Clinton hails US move on Iran  News Report

* Israel to prepare for potential missile attack  News Report

* US First Lady in Kuwait  News Report

* Rice: Mideast solution in jeopardy  News Report

* Kurdish fighters defy the world from mountain fortress as bombing begins  News Report

* Protesters confront Condoleezza Rice as she testifies on Middle East  News Report

* Showdown With Iran  News Report

* U.S. outlines Baghdad security handover plan  News Report

* Poll shows global opposition to Iran - and U.S.  News Report

* Iraq promises Turkey it will curb Kurdish rebels  News Report

* Big shoes to fill  News Report

* LUKOIL says halts Iran oil project on US sanctions  News Report

* Three soldiers killed in Darfur camp attack - UN  News Report

* There's a better - and cheaper - way that Washington can help Lebanon  News Report

* Lebanese patience for Nahr al-Bared displaced wears thin  News Report

* Iran, Syria urge diplomatic means instead of military incursion into Iraq  News Report

* Talabani refuses to deliver PKK leaders to Turkey amid protests against incursion  News Report

* Turkey vows to defeat PKK rebels  News Report

* Iran N-case on Olmert's Paris agenda  News Report

* Motaki (FM): US in No Position to Attack Iran  News Report

* We will fight to the death, Kurdish rebel leader vows from his hideout  News Report

* Deaths And Hostages In Border Clash  News Report

* Flash News: Kurdish separatistand 12 Turkish soldiers killed  News Report

* IRGC Commander:Aggressions to Be Reciprocated with a Rain of Rockets  News Report

* 2 leaders back Blair as European Union president  News Report

* Babacan stresses dialogue as key to solving Lebanese crisis  News Report

* Jordan hopes for positive outcome of Annapolis meeting  News Report

* Iran's nuclear negotiator resigns  News Report

* Larijani Resigns  Ali Behrooz

* NATO says shipment of roadside bombs was 'from Iran'  News Report

* Israel impeding effort to clear cluster bombs  News Report

* Bhutto defiant over bomb attack  News Report

* Democrats' stance on Iran criticized  News Report

* Top Palestinian negotiator may resign  News Report

* UN condemns killing of its truck drivers in Darfur  News Report

* Kurds sign oil deals beyond regional borders – former minister  News Report

* Jerusalem is ours, warns Likud  News Report

* Rice back in Israel after Egypt talks  News Report

* Haft Tapeh Sugar Cane workers in southern Iran go on strike  News Report

* Ahmadinejad: Caspian states to form economic cooperation organization  News Report

* Putin lands in Iran for nuke talks  News Report

* Mideast Conference and the Illusive Peace  News Report

* Coalition of the Reluctant  News Report

* World bank neglects African farming, study says  News Report

* Putin dismisses threat of assassination in Iran  News Report

* Israel signals readiness to cede parts of Jerusalem to Palestinians  News Report

* Christiane Amanpour: 'People think I relax with a Kalashnikov - I don't'  News Report

* After honeymoon, Sarkozy method poses three risks  News Report


Petraeus: Return to 'pre-surge' troop levels, then wait
[ News Report]  [2008-04-08 14:00:08]
[Source: CNN - 08/04/08]


  • NEW: Sens. John McCain, Hillary Clinton disagree over level of progress in Iraq
  • Ambassador, general warn that Iran could pose greatest threat to Iraq
  • Hearing twice interrupted by protesters, one chanting, "Bring them home"
  • U.S. ambassador says Iraqi parliament working on national reconciliation

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Iraq is making "fragile but reversible" progress on security, but it's too early to set dates to pull out all U.S. troops, the top U.S. military commander in Iraq told Congress on Tuesday.

Gen. David Petraeus said the number of troops should return to "pre-surge" levels this summer, but the military should gauge conditions before making further decisions.

After the 20,000 troops sent during last year's surge are withdrawn, by July, the military should wait 45 days before deciding on more reductions, Petraeus told the Senate Armed Services Committee.

"This approach does not allow establishment of a set withdrawal timetable," he said. "However, it does provide the flexibility those of us on the ground need to preserve the still fragile security gains our troopers have fought so hard and sacrificed so much to achieve."

There has been "significant but uneven progress," Petraeus said, adding that recent violence shows the progress is "fragile but reversible."

"The situation in certain areas is still unsatisfactory and innumerable challenges remain," he said.

Petraeus said the surge of U.S. troops last year and the incorporation of Iraqi citizens' security groups have yielded results. Both efforts have helped reduce "the areas where al Qaeda enjoys support." Watch entire hearing live on CNN.com

"Iraq has also conducted a surge, adding well over 100,000 additional soldiers and police to the ranks of its security forces in 2007 and slowly increasing its capability to deploy and employ these forces," Petraeus said.

Recent military operations in the southern city of Basra demonstrate that Iraqi forces can do things today that would have been impossible a year ago, the general said. VideoWatch why Petraeus says al Qaeda's still a threat »

Ryan Crocker, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, who testified alongside Petraeus, said Iraqis have shown progress on the political front as well, with parliament -- previously paralyzed by infighting -- passing legislation that advances "reconciliation and nation building."

Both men warned that with al Qaeda in Iraq retreating -- though not yet defeated -- Iran is the most likely force to derail the country's tenuous stability. See military charts showing violence levels »

The flow of insurgents through Syria -- while reduced to a degree -- also exacerbates problems in Iraq, as do "insufficient Iraqi governmental capacity, lingering sectarian mistrust and corruption," Petraeus said.

The Islamic republic is "funding, training, arming and directing the so-called special groups," which left unchecked, "pose the greatest long-term threat to the viability of a democratic Iraq," he said.

While vowing to "aggressively uproot and destroy" these forces, Crocker also said diplomacy was essential: "We support constructive relations between Iran and Iraq and are participating in a tripartite process to discuss the security situation in Iraq. Iran has a choice to make."

Conceding the many convoluted situations plaguing the war-ravaged nation, Crocker said, "Mr. Chairman, almost everything about Iraq is difficult."

The hearing was twice interrupted by protesters, one of whom was escorted out of the Senate chamber as he chanted, "Bring them home." VideoWatch authorities remove the protester »

Petraeus and Crocker are scheduled to answer questions from key senators Tuesday and from House members Wednesday.

Opening Tuesday's Senate hearing, the committee chairman said the United States must come up with a timeline for ending its involvement in Iraq.

"Our current open-ended commitment is an invitation to continuing dependency," Sen. Carl Levin, D-Michigan, said, before accusing President Bush of "ignoring the view of his own military leaders." VideoWatch Levin grill the general »

Levin further said that Iraqis were not allocating enough of their own money and resources "to take responsibility for their country's future."

In later remarks, Levin criticized Petraeus, saying the general's proposal to wait on determining troop levels as a "plan which has no end to it."

Sen. John McCain, the presumed GOP presidential candidate and the committee's ranking member, acknowledged that Iraqi officials need to take responsibility for their country.

However, despite a recent upsurge in fighting in Iraq, McCain said there were signs of progress there. VideoWatch McCain make a case for staying in Iraq »

"We are no longer staring into the abyss of defeat," McCain said, adding that he has no desire to keep U.S. troops in Iraq "a minute longer than necessary."

Sen. Hillary Clinton, a committee member and contender for the Democratic presidential nomination, flatly told Petraeus that it's "time to begin an orderly process of withdrawing our troops," so the U.S. can focus on Afghanistan and other interests.

Citing what she called a "lack of political progress over the past six months" and lackluster Iraqi-led military offensives -- particularly in southern Iraq -- Clinton slammed the U.S. policy in Iraq.

"It might well be irresponsible to continue the policy that has not produced results that have been promised time and time again," she said.

Clinton's Democratic rival, Sen. Barack Obama, was scheduled to ask Crocker and Petraeus questions later Tuesday when they appear before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Last month, Petraeus said the military was in a "better place in terms of security, and even in terms of political progress by the Iraqis, than we were, say, a year ago. Although we are always quick to note that the progress is tenuous and that it is reversible and that there are innumerable challenges out there."

At the end of March, a high-profile week of fighting erupted in Basra between Iraqi government forces and Shiite militias.The clashes followed months of relative calm in which violence seemed to be declining. Military results were inconclusive.

The battle ended only after Iraqi Shiite lawmakers traveled to Iran to negotiate with Iranian leaders and Iraqi Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who commands the loyalty of the largest militia in Iraq.

White House spokesman Tony Fratto admitted Monday the Basra operation was not "an overall success" for Iraqi government forces.

After the surge ends in July, there will be 15 U.S. combat brigade teams in Iraq, and roughly 140,000 American troops.

In September, Defense Secretary Robert Gates floated the prospect of pulling five additional brigades out of Iraq by 2009.

Last testifying with Crocker in September, Petraeus said he would be hard-pressed to recommend maintaining the surge of U.S. troops past this spring if conditions in Iraq did not improve in the interim.

Since then, however, Petraeus has requested a "pause" in troop withdrawals following the end of the surge.

Officials have said privately it's hoped that one or two brigades could leave before Christmas.

Such a reduction may be possible because of plans to shorten Army combat-zone tours from 15 months to 12 months as of this summer. Bush is expected to announce that change Thursday.

All AboutRyan CrockerMuqtada al-SadrIraqDavid Petraeus

 
 
Links referenced within this article

Watch entire hearing live on CNN.com
http://edition.cnn.com/live3
Watch why Petraeus says al Qaeda's still a threat »
#cnnSTCVideo
Petraeus
http://topics.edition.cnn.com/topics/David_Petraeus
See military charts showing violence levels »
#cnnSTCOther1
Watch authorities remove the protester »
#cnnSTCVideo
Crocker
http://topics.edition.cnn.com/topics/Ryan_Crocker
Watch Levin grill the general »
#cnnSTCVideo
Watch McCain make a case for staying in Iraq »
#cnnSTCVideo
Muqtada al-Sadr
http://topics.edition.cnn.com/topics/Muqtada_al_Sadr
Iraq
http://topics.edition.cnn.com/topics/Iraq
Ryan Crocker
http://topics.edition.cnn.com/topics/Ryan_Crocker
Muqtada al-Sadr
http://topics.edition.cnn.com/topics/Muqtada_al_Sadr
Iraq
http://topics.edition.cnn.com/topics/Iraq
David Petraeus
http://topics.edition.cnn.com/topics/David_Petraeus

 





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