Saad Qandeel
More than 150 people were killed in a single day in Iraq last week as sectarian violence continued to spiral out of control, despite the four-month-old US military 'surge' which has now reached its peak with some 160,000 troops deployed.

More bloodshed is expected as a renewed US military crackdown on insurgents is under way.

Last week's bomb attack on a revered Shia Muslim shrine in the heart of Baghdad, claiming at least 87 lives, has increased sectarian tensions.

Meanwhile, the Bush administration continues to boost the budget for its involvement in Iraq while recent public opinion polls reveal the war's declining popularity.

General David Petraeus, the top US commander in Iraq, recently said the US-led counter-insurgency may take as long as ten years. Critics of the US policy in Iraq have compared the war to the US involvement in Vietnam, painting a grim picture of the affects of the war on regional stability and US credibility in the international community.

David Pollock
The US strategy reportedly includes agreements with armed Sunni factions in an effort to break their ties with al-Qaeda cells.

Have US tactics in Iraq backfired? Is there an end to the violence currently escalating in Iraq? Under pressure from the Democratic-controlled congress, the Pentagon will be issuing its assessment of US military strategy in Iraq next month. Is an end to the foreign military presence in Iraq anywhere in sight? Or will the US administration stay the course in Iraq until next year's presidential election?

Joining us on Inside Iraq this week are David Pollock from the Washington Institute, Carl Conetta from the Project on Defense Alternatives, and Dr Saad Jawad Qandeel, a senior member of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI).

This episode of Inside Iraq aired from Friday 23 June 2007

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Source: Al Jazeera