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Ex-US commander backs Iraq pullout
Retired general Ricardo Sanchez supports Democratic plan for withdrawal next year.
Last Modified: 22 Nov 2007 02:20 GMT
Sanchez put the blame for Iraq's lack of
security on Iraqi leaders [EPA]
The former top US military commander in Iraq says American troops should pull out by next year.
 
Lieutenant-General Ricardo Sanchez said he supported troop withdrawal legislation by the Democratic-controlled congress that calls for most US soldiers to be home within a year.
Sanchez, now retired, was the commanding officer in Iraq shortly after the fall of Baghdad and was directly in charge of combat operations there from 2003 to 2004.
 
He said US soldiers should be withdrawn because US efforts to improve security in Iraq were not matched by the country's leaders.

The general accused the Iraqi leadership of being unwilling to make "the hard choices necessary to bring peace to their country".

 

"There is no evidence that the Iraqis will choose to do so in the near future or that we have an ability to force that result," Sanchez said.

 

He added that the congressional bill "makes the proper preparation of our deploying troops a priority and requires the type of shift in their mission that will allow their numbers to be reduced substantially".

 

Standoff

 

Sanchez's critical remarks will be aired on Saturday for the weekly Democratic radio address.

 

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The House of Representatives this month passed a $50bn bill to fund combat operations but set December 15 next year as a target to end the mission.

 

The matter resulted in a standoff after the White House threatened to veto the measure and Republicans in the senate blocked the passage of the bill.

 

In October, Sanchez said the US mission in Iraq was a "nightmare with no end in sight".

 

He also described the order by George Bush, the US president, for 30,000 additional troops to be deployed to Iraq this year, as a "desperate attempt" to make up for years of misguided policies in Iraq.

 

The Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal happened on Sanchez's watch, with some criticising his leadership.

 

While he was not charged with misconduct, Sanchez said upon retiring from the military in November 2006 that his career was a casualty of the scandal.

Source:
Agencies
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