"We should expect, however, that AQI will attempt to increase its tempo of
attacks as September approaches in an effort to influence US domestic opinion
about sustained US engagement in Iraq," Bush's report said. AQI is an acronym
for the al-Qaida affiliate in Iraq that US officials say has a small number of
fighters but an outsized ability to accelerate sectarian violence in Baghdad and
At a White House
news conference, Bush pleaded for patience, saying that as difficult and painful
as the war has become, the consequences of giving up and withdrawing the troops
now would be even worse.
His report to Congress acknowledged shortcomings while asserting that the
"overall trajectory" of the military and political effort in Iraq "has begun to
stabilize, compared to the deteriorating trajectory" in 2006.
Sprinkled through the report are phrases that make clear the administration
believes its military strategy is the right one, that it should be given more
time and that positive results are at least months away.
There are encouraging signs that should, "over time," point the way to lower
US troop levels in Iraq.
Meaningful and lasting progress on national reconciliation may require a
"sustained period" of reduced violence.
Pushing "too fast" for reforms to allow former Sunni Baathists to participate
more fully in the government could make it harder to achieve reconciliation.
Likewise, it said the time is not right to establish amnesty for those
insurgents who fought against the government since 2003, although amnesty is a
key goal. At the moment, the report said, "a general amnesty program would be
counterproductive" because no major armed group has said it is willing to
renounce violence and join the government.
The report listed eight "core objectives" that will be the main focus "over
2007 and into 2008." These included defeating al-Qaida and its supporters and
helping Iraqis regain control of Baghdad.