Bush plans further troop withdrawals from Iraq

(The Washington Post) -  President Bush expects to pull more U.S. troops out of Iraq before he leaves office next January, a senior administration official said Friday, dismissing suspicions that a pause in withdrawals this summer would freeze U.S. force levels until the next president takes office.

The temporary halt in troop reductions now expected this summer would last just four to six weeks to assess conditions on the ground, the official said, and, assuming the situation does not deteriorate, would be followed by more withdrawals later in the year. The official would not predict how many more troops might be pulled out by the end of Bush's term.

Speaking to reporters at a briefing under ground rules that he not be identified, the official said of the pause: "This is not a stall tactic. I fully expect further reductions this year, in '08, and so does the president. It's just a question of when will the reductions be announced, when will they take effect ... and what will be the pace."

The administration is now pulling out the 20,000 additional combat troops Bush sent last year, with the last of them due to leave Iraq by mid-July. Army Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, has proposed a pause after that to review conditions and see whether the remaining troops can keep violence down. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said last month that he agreed, seeming to undercut his previous desire to reduce the U.S. force in Iraq from 158,000 now to 100,000 by the end of 2008.

The idea of a pause has roiled the politics of war in Washington and angered Democrats who want to accelerate the pullout, not slow it down. Both Democratic presidential candidates have denounced the idea, and the Senate this week debated legislation to require troop withdrawals within 120 days and subsequently limit the missions the remaining forces could conduct.

The Senate debated the bill for three days, with Republicans voting twice to continue the discussion because of newfound confidence born out of security gains in Iraq. With fewer than 30 senators publicly backing the measure, however, it was withdrawn by week's end without a final vote, and Senate leadership aides do not expect any new action on Iraq until spring.

Sen. Russell Feingold, D-Wis., who sponsored the proposal, chided the administration for the latest signal regarding forces in Iraq. "Mixed messages from this administration regarding troop levels are nothing new," he said in a statement. "Only a clear timetable for when we will be out of Iraq will help move Iraqi political reconciliation forward and allow us to refocus on al-Qaida."

Bush made no public comment on Iraq Friday. He met with NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer at the White House to discuss the war in Afghanistan and then flew to Texas, where he will host Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen to further discuss the effort in Afghanistan.

But on Thursday, Bush mocked Democrats for fixating on leaving Iraq. "I guess you could say that when it comes for pushing for withdrawal, their strategy is to stay the course," he said. "It's interesting that many of the same people who once accused me of refusing to acknowledge setbacks in Iraq now are the ones who are refusing to acknowledge progress."

Petraeus and U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker will return to Capitol Hill to testify on April 8 and 9, updating lawmakers from their last appearance in September. Until now, the administration had not sketched out a time frame for the pause in withdrawals. The official who briefed reporters said it would be "a period of weeks, four to six weeks, not months." Petraeus, the official said, is "not thinking about 90 days here to reassess."

Under that scenario, Petraeus would then determine by the end of August if further reductions are feasible. If violence does not spike, he could recommend that more brigades be pulled out, though officials said it would take a couple of months to begin withdrawing more troops once an order is given.

"We anticipate further reductions because we have confidence in the way things are going now," the administration official said.

It remained unclear how large further withdrawals might be. Even if Petraeus advises Bush to pull out more troops, the president might want to wait until after provincial elections that Iraqis are contemplating for October, keeping enough forces to provide security around the time of the vote, officials said.

Bush could order the withdrawal of several brigades over several months, much as the current pullout of the "surge" troops is being phased in through the spring. In doing so, he could set in motion a sequence of withdrawals that would continue even after he leaves office. But some military officers said they expect Bush to decide not to preempt the next president, in which case he might pull out a single additional combat brigade of about 4,000 troops in December.

Spokesmen for Sens. Barack Obama of Illinois and Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, the contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination, did not respond to requests for comment Friday.

Retired Army Gen. Jack Keane, who advised the White House on the surge, expressed surprise at the notion of a short pause ending by early October. "The idea that you would continue the troop withdrawal in the face of provincial elections makes no sense," he said.

Subscribe to Trend in Google News! Subscribe
Turkmen company exports paper products to Uzbekistan, Turkey
Turkmen company exports paper products to Uzbekistan, Turkey
Turkmen ministry prolongs tender for supply of metal blanks
Turkmen ministry prolongs tender for supply of metal blanks
Kazakhstan’s oil and gas company opens tender to supply fittings
Kazakhstan’s oil and gas company opens tender to supply fittings
Loading Bars
Latest
Kyrgyz border service reports shots from Tajikistan
Bennett declares ‘Yamam’ Israel’s national counterterrorism force
Transport infrastructure in Karabakh to turn Azerbaijan into logistics hub between Central Asia and Europe – CAERC
Four injured after old WWII aircraft bomb explodes in Munich - police
1st US case of COVID-19 omicron variant identified - Fauci
OPEC can elect new secretary general in January 2022 — source
President Erdogan talks bilateral relations with Crown Prince of UAE
Georgia to receive special PCR tests to detect new Omicron variant of coronavirus
Qatar Airways to launch flights to Uzbekistan from Jan 17, 2022
Iran military clashes with armed men on Afghan border
Armenia found itself in complete military-political isolation even within CSTO - Russian military expert
Net foreign assets in Azerbaijan grow for 10M2021
New geopolitical situation in region opens way for Azerbaijan’s further development - ambassador
Ambassador of Kazakhstan expresses condolences to Azerbaijan due to helicopter crash
Azerbaijan working on reconstruction railway line which is part of Zangazur corridor (PHOTO)
SOCAR’s STAR refinery tests numerous types of crude oil
Azerbaijan considering sending medical workers of Baku clinics to district hospitals
Azerbaijan shares data on number of vaccinated citizens
Azerbaijan confirms 1,795 more COVID-19 cases, 1,967 recoveries
Azerbaijani National Depository Center opens tender to buy new generation security system
Georgia boosts honey exports
Solar PV growth to surpass wind in EU in 2021-2026
Servicemen injured in Azerbaijani helicopter crash talk about incident (PHOTO/VIDEO)
Turkmen company exports paper products to Uzbekistan, Turkey
Iranian companies express readiness to restore factories in Syria - minister
Azerbaijani, Armenian FMs to meet in Sweden
President Ilham Aliyev receives EU Special Representative for South Caucasus (PHOTO/VIDEO)
US Marshall Legacy Institute sends eight more mine detection dogs to Azerbaijan (PHOTO)
Iran’s Bahar Azadi gold coin price rebounds
Azerbaijani agency shares data for mine detection, clearing work in liberated territories
Central Bank of Azerbaijan opens tender to insure fixed assets
Azerbaijan’s 10M2021 oil exports to Spain revealed
Uzbek Statistics Committee shares data on volume of retail trade turnover
Georgian medics advise reconsidering COVID-19 passports issuance
Overview of Uzbekistan's volume of wholesale trade turnover dynamics between 2010-2020
Price indexes of construction, trade sectors at Uzbek stock exchange fall
Georgia, IMF discuss new co-op program
Prices for goods and services in consumer market of Uzbekistan rise
Turkey’s diesel fuel exports to Georgia down
Georgia, NATO discuss further co-op and Black Sea security
Iran bans import of musical instruments due to lack of foreign exchange resources
Turkmen ministry prolongs tender for supply of metal blanks
IRENEX shares data on sales of Tabriz Oil Refining Company
Activities in Iran’s Imam Khomeini port down
Star Refinery satisfies about quarter of Turkey's refined petroleum product needs - CEO
Kazakhstan’s oil and gas company opens tender to supply fittings
Mobile phones rank first in Iran’s total imports - IRICA
Turkmenistan’s education ministry extends tender for setting drip irrigation system
Oil minister tells president, parliament that Iran's oil exports 'significantly grow'
Azerbaijan, Pakistan talk prospects for development of military co-op (PHOTO)
Azerbaijan's SOCAR Polymer exports increase over 10M2021
Iran unveils volume of dates export
Iran’s CBI reveals data on balance of bank loans
EU to exceed current renewable capacity plans for 2030
Azerbaijan reveals oil exports to Italy in 10M2021
Azerbaijan shares data on oil export to Croatia in 10M2021
Baku Metro provides ‘November 8’ station with backup power supply (Exclusive) (PHOTO)
Renewable electricity generation to exceed average annual growth rate of 2015-2020
Expansion of bioenergy for power capacity to slow down
Renewable energy capacity to expand by 2026, says IEA
Azerbaijan talks ongoing work to provide electricity to liberated Lachin district
Special representative of Azerbaijan's President in liberated territories within Karabakh economic region appointed
German Ambassador expresses condolences to Azerbaijan over deadly helicopter crash
Iran, Syria sign four cooperation agreements
Iran to invest in Syrian industrial towns
Austria extends COVID-19 lockdown by 10 days
Branch of Azerbaijan’s Balakhani Operating Company opens tender to buy pipes, pumps
Baku electric company opens tender to buy materials for lamp posts repair
Organization of social zone of Aghdam Industrial Park completes in Azerbaijan – minister
Deputy Prime Ministers of Azerbaijan, Armenia and Russia to meet in Moscow today
Azerbaijan’s Azerishig opens tender for reconstruction of substation in Sumgayit
Kazakhstan increases trade with India over 9M2021
Nar continues to grow IT professionals (PHOTO)
India provides medical, humanitarian aid to over 150 countries to deal with COVID-19: MEA
Georgia receives COVID-19 support grant from German Development Bank
Turkey-Azerbaijan trade turnover grows in October 2021
Kazakhstan reports increase in maritime transport volumes
SOCAR Petroleum to open new petrol station in Azerbaijan’s Gubadli district
SOCAR Georgia Gas increases gas tariffs
Iran reveals COVID-19 data for December 1
Azerbaijan discloses data on oil exports to Israel
Georgian cities receive EU grant for cultural development
Saudi Arabia reports first Omicron case coming from north Africa
Georgian FM expresses condolences for lives lost in crash of military helicopter
PMO records increase in cargo movements in Iranian ports
Turkey’s BOTAS increases gas imports
Hungary launches Stipendium Hungaricum scholarship programm
Russia working out celebration program for 30th anniversary of ties with Azerbaijan - MFA
Burial ceremony of Azerbaijani helicopter crash victims held in second Alley of Martyrs (PHOTO/VIDEO)
Georgian Embassy expresses condolences to Azerbaijan on helicopter crash
Iran to prepare budget bill with highest economic growth estimates - President Raisi
Construction and installation work under completion at Azerbaijan’s Khojasan metro station (PHOTO)
Dynamics of OPEC+ production in 2021-2023
Share of Iranian government in earnings from crude oil exports to decrease – Official
Some try to use helicopter crash for political purposes - Azerbaijan's prosecutor general (PHOTO)
Azerbaijan lost comrades - head of Azerbaijani State Border Service on helicopter crash
Azerbaijan sees increase in local payments of foreigners via bank cards
Azerishig OJSC reveals work done to supply power to Azerbaijan’ Kalbajar
Russian Moscow Exchange and Uzbek Toshkent Stock Exchange sign co-op agreement
Turkey increases volume of crude oil import for 10M2021
All news