In response to the Baker report

The recomendations of the Iraq Study Group draws mixed reaction.

    Thousands of Iraqis have died since the
    US invaded the country in 2003

    Speaking immediately after the report was made public, Saleem al-Jubouril, a spokesperson for the Iraqi Front, the main Sunni bloc in the Iraqi parliament, said: "We find some of its points positive but, on the whole, we feel it's vague and avoids some issues.

    "We don't want to see an immediate withdrawal that would cause chaos but we wanted a timetable for withdrawal.

    "We think the issue of addressing Syria and Iran is an admission of their massive interference.

    "We don't see it as necessary to increase the number of US troops to train Iraqi forces. We just think they need to get more serious about it."

    From the Shia United alliance bloc, Hasan al-Shimmari, said: "I think it was correct to analyse that the problem is political.


    "It's natural to have talks with parties who are using Iraq as a place to settle scores among themselves.


    "If the Americans reached a common agreement with the Syrians, Iranians and all the other international players with the involvement of the Iraqi government then it should have a positive impact because the bulk of the reasons why Iraq is deteriorating are external."


    In the US, Jon Alterman, director of Middle East programme at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, said: "This report is not non-partisan, it is bipartisan. It's most important impact will be political, and that impact will be felt far more strongly in Washington than in Baghdad.


    "The devil will be in the detail of the report"

    Stephen Biddle, 
    senior fellow for defence policy,
    Council on Foreign Relations

    "With the issuance of this report, it has become far easier to claim one is a loyal Republican and one differs strongly with the Bush administration on Iraq.


    "When some Congressional Republicans did that in September, it set off a tremor. This could provoke an earthquake and leave the president very isolated if he refuses to change course."


    Stephen Biddle, a senior fellow for defence policy at the Council on Foreign Relations, said: "There are a set of larger questions having to do with whether or not middle ground military postures make sense.


    "You have got this very awkward situation where the understandable pressure for compromise in a democratic political system could produce a compromise military posture that's the worst of both worlds.


    "The devil will be in the detail of the report."


    Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leader in the US House of Representatives, took the opportunity to say the president's policy in Iraq had failed.


    "The bipartisan Iraq Study Group has concluded that the president's Iraq policy has failed and must be changed," she said.


    "As the November elections clearly demonstrated, that is an assessment shared by the American people.


    "If the president is serious about the need for change in Iraq, he will find Democrats ready to work with him in a bipartisan fashion to find a way to end the war as quickly as possible."

    SOURCE: Agencies


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