Democrats Want Iraq Troop Cut in Months

Empowered by their last week's sweeping election victory and a mandate from American voters, Democrats are pressing for a phased US troop pullout from Iraq in the next four to six months as their top priority when the new Congress convenes in January, the

Democrats Want Iraq Troop Cut in Months

"We need to begin a phased redeployment of forces from Iraq in four to six months," Senator Carl Levin, the incoming Foreign Relations Committee chairman, told the ABC News program "This Week."

"The people spoke dramatically, overwhelmingly, resoundingly to change the course in Iraq," he added.

In a telephone interview with the Times, Senator Levin said the point is "to signal to the Iraqis that the open-ended commitment is over and that they are going to have to solve their own problems."

Three American soldiers have been killed in the restive western province of Al-Anbar, the US military reported on Sunday.

The soldiers, part of the 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division stationed in the flash point city of Ramadi, died Saturday from wounds inflicted during clashes with resistance fighters.

The latest casualties brings the number of US servicemen killed in Iraq since the March 2003 invasion to 2,844 according to an AFP count based on Pentagon figures.

The United States has 130,000 troops in war-ravaged Iraq.

Political Solution

Senator Harry Reid, the incoming Armed Services Committee chairman and soon-to-be majority leader, also pushed for a partial withdrawal from Iraq.

"We need to redeploy," he said on CBS' "Face The Nation."

"It should start within the next few months," he added.

Reid, however, said that details should be ultimately left up to the military professionals in Iraq.

"Officers on the ground" should decide on the timing and the manner of the redeployment, he maintained.

In June, the Republican-controlled Senate rejected two amendments on troop reductions backed by Democrats.

One called for all American combat troops to be withdrawn within a year while the other proposed troop reductions to start by the end of the year without setting a deadline for complete pullout.

Democrats said they would press for a political solution to the Iraq conflict.

"There is only a political solution in Iraq," Levin said.

"We've got to put pressure on them (Iraqis) to do what only the Iraqi leaders can do, that is to work out a political solution."

Reid called for engaging neighboring countries in reaching a political solution to the Iraq conflict.

The Observer reported Sunday that Prime Minister Tony Blair told Bush in a long telephone call about the need to involve Iraq's neighbors Syria and Iran in efforts to stabilize Iraq.

Senator Joe Biden, who is presumed to take over the Foreign Relations Committee, said that the conflict should be politically settled.

He said lawmakers would "put pressure on the Iraqis to insist upon a means to distribute the oil equitableably, make sure there's some form of federalism and deal with the militias and call for an international conference."

Violence between Sunnis and Shiites in Iraq has escalated since a 2003 US-led invasion toppled former president Saddam Hussein.

Iraq's health ministry has said that some 150,000 people have been killed since the invasion, three times more than the previously agreed upon figure.

New Course

Reid called for engaging neighboring countries in reaching a political solution to the Iraq conflict.

Embattled US President George W. Bush was set to meet Monday with a bipartisan panel of foreign policy experts working on recommendations about US strategy in Iraq.

White House spokesman Tony Snow said the Iraq Study Group is not due to present the president with its final report this week.

The Iraq Study Group, led by former secretary of state James A. Baker, will meet separately with Bush, the secretaries of state and defense, the CIA director and the director of national intelligence.

They will then interview Blair by videoconference.

The panel will meet Tuesday, November 14, with Democratic foreign policy leaders.

The Iraq Study Group is expected to make its recommendations by the end of the year.

Bush signaled Saturday that he was open to a new path in the violence-racked country, praising his choice for defense secretary as "an agent of change."

The same message was reaffirmed by the White House Sunday.

Joshua B. Bolten, the chief of staff, said Bush was open to "fresh ideas" and a "fresh look."

A politically humbled Bush has admitted the impact of the unpopular Iraq war on his party's major election loss.

"I recognize that many Americans voted last night to register their displeasure with the lack of progress being made there."

He has conceded to mounting demands to replace Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who has come to symbolize the administration's unwillingness to change a policy that has failed to bring order to Iraq and that has lost popular support at home.

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Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16