A plan beginning to take shape?

ENCOURAGED by his success in talking communist North Korea out of their nuclear projects in exchange for oodles of oil, but weighed down by the continuing violence in Iraq, President George W Bush faced the White House Press corps in his first news conference of the year.

By Claude Salhani

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Published: Fri 16 Feb 2007, 9:51 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 1:09 AM

Most of the hour-long conference was devoted to Iraq, and of course Iran’s involvement in the Iraqi conflict. The president back-pedaled on earlier US accusations against Iran’s leaders involving them in funneling explosives to Iraqi militants. But at the same time Bush said that that when the US finds the networks responsible for killing Americans, they would be dealt with. However, the president added, he was not looking for a pretext for war with Iran.

Before opening up the floor to questions from reporters Bush wanted to stress that if things were not going entirely as expected in Iraq, at least progress had been achieved in the Far East with the North Korean nuclear deal sealed just 24-hours earlier.

Cynics however and they are numerous —don’t believe that Pyongyang is likely to respect the deal in the long run. With winter afoot, the reclusive communist state is in dire need of heating oil, which some experts say is what led them to accept this deal. Some think North Korea is very likely to renege on the deal as soon as spring comes around and their need for fuel is no longer as critical.

One reporter reminded the president that John Bolton, the former US Ambassador to the United Nations decried the agreement, calling it a “sad, disappointing deal.” Said Bolton of the deal with North Korea, “the best thing about it is that it will probably fall apart.”

Bush disagreed with his former ambassador, dismissed the critics and moved on to discus his new security plan for Baghdad the controversial decision to surge thousands of American soldiers and marines into the Iraqi capital in an effort to place Baghdad in government hands, thus hopefully paving the way for the United States to begin its withdrawal from Iraq.

“The plan is starting to take shape,” said the president. What kind of shape is another matter all together.

Indeed, since Bush’s surge of additional American forces into the conflict the terrorists have responded with their own surge, resulting with the death toll among the Iraqi population rising like mercury on a hot summer day.

The sad truth is that despite all additional efforts to curb the violence, attacks against civilians have increased in the last few weeks.

I don’t know which newspapers the president reads he did admit during the Press conference that he does read newspapers, but the papers I have been looking at all carry reports of astounding numbers of Iraqis being killed every day. 60 killed on Monday. On Tuesday 78 were killed; more than 100 died a few days before that. Another 38 the day before, and so forth and so on. Is that what Bush calls a plan “getting into shape?”

The president did admit that “The Operation Secure Baghdad will take time and there will be violence.” In the meantime, the president lashed out at Iran for supplying deadly IEDs improvised explosive devises to Iraqi insurgents.

“What we do know is that the Quds Force was instrumental in providing these deadly IEDs to networks inside of Iraq,” said Bush referring to the elite unit of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards.

“We know that. And we also know that the Quds Force is a part of the Iranian government. That’s a known. What we don’t know is whether or not the head leaders of Iran ordered the Quds Force to do what they did. But here is my point. Either they knew or didn’t know. What matters is, is that they’re there. What’s worse? That the government knew, or that the government didn’t know?”

In the meantime accusations against Iran’s involvement in supplying explosives to the Iraqi insurgency are received with scepticism because of Bush’s claims in 2002 that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction. Accusations that turned out to be false.

Claude Salhani is International Editor and a political analyst with United Press International in Washington, DC. Comments may be sent to Claude@upi.com

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