New US strategy to call for benchmarks for Iraqis

Iran Materials 8 January 2007 12:04 (UTC +04:00)

(AFP) - New Iraq policy will establish a series of goals that the Iraqi government will be expected to meet to try to stabilize the country politically and economically, The New York Times reported on its website.

Citing unnamed senior administration officials, the newspaper said these "benchmarks" will call for drawing more Sunnis into the political process, finalizing a long-delayed measure on the distribution of oil revenue and easing the governmentГ''s policy toward former Baath Party members, reports Trend.

Without saying what the specific penalties for failing to achieve the goals would be, US officials insisted that they intended to hold the Iraqis to a realistic timetable for action, the report said.

The Americans and Iraqis have agreed on many of the objectives before, only to fall far short, The New York Times pointed out.

Bush is expected to refer to the benchmarks in a much-anticipated speech this week outlining his new Iraq strategy, including plans to send as many as 20,000 additional troops, according to the report.

Administration officials plan to make the benchmarks public sometime after the address, the paper said.

"This is not an open-ended commitment," the newspaper quoted a senior administration official as saying. "We are putting real specific requirements and expectations on the Iraqi government."

Some of the goals that are to be incorporated on the list of benchmarks have been carried over from an earlier list that was hammered out with the Iraqis, made public in October, but never met, the report said.

They include, for example, a previously stated promise to set a date for provincial elections or adopt a national oil law that would give the central government the power to distribute current and future oil revenues to the provinces or regions, The New York Times said.

The benchmarks will also deal with settling a new policy on de-Baathification, according to the report.