General: ‘no guarantees of success’

A new US plan to boost American forces and secure Baghdad will target Iranian and Syrian networks in Iraq but its success is not guaranteed, top US officials said in the Iraqi capital.

The plan presented by US President George W. Bush last week has “no guarantees of success and it’s not going to happen overnight,” General George Casey acknowledged.

But Casey, the outgoing US military commander in Iraq, told a joint press conference along with US Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad: “With sustained efforts this can work.”

Putting a calendar on results for the first time, he said that effects of the plan should be seen by mid to late 2007.

Khalilzad said the plan also “seeks to change the behaviour of Iran and Syria, going after their networks in Iraq that are attacking coalition forces and undermining Iraqi security.

“We have already taken steps by moving against Iranian EFP (explosively formed projectiles) networks associated with Iranian Quds forces,” Zhalilzad said on Monday.

He referred to the capture last week by US forces of five Iranians who were detained in northern Iraq and accused of being linked to Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard.

US officials allege that Iran is exporting so-called EFPs, which are specially shaped charges that direct the blast and are able to penetrate thick US armour. They are widely used in roadside bomb attacks.

Iran insists the detainees are all consular officials but Khalilzad said: “They are foreign intelligence agents from Al-Quds force, working to destroy Iraq.

“They are not diplomats. They had no diplomatic status.”

On Wednesday, Bush announced a major policy shift for Iraq after nearly four years of escalating violence, saying that he was adding 21,500 soldiers to the 132,000 US troops deployed in the country.

Bush said the fresh troops would focus on thwarting insurgents and sectarian violence in Baghdad and the unruly western province of Anbar in tandem with a renewed push by the Iraqi government to achieve political reconciliation among the rival Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish communities.

His plan was slammed by opposition Democrats in the US Congress, however, and won only lukewarm backing from Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.

But Khalilzad, who is also to step down soon, told reporters in Baghdad: “I believe this plan is robust and has good prospects for success.”

Casey added that “the plan is Iraqi conceived and Iraqi led but we are involved in every step.”

The US general stressed that rogue Shiite forces believed to be behind much of the country’s chronic sectarian violence would be targeted in the new plan.

“Militias will not be allowed to be an alternative to the state or to provide and to take on local security around the country,” Casey said.

Khalilzad added: “There will be no sanctuaries for criminals or murderers.

“Military commanders will have freedom of action without political interference. They won’t be told don’t do this or don’t go in this or that neighbourhood. The operation will continue until the job is done.”

Casey also insisted that the plan although Iraqi led would not put American troops at extra risk.

“It is an Iraqi conceived plan but we are involved at every step. American forces will remain under American command. Period.”

Copyright © 2007 Agence France Presse


  1. bill Robinson

    And if it doesn’t work? What then?
    What do we do if it fails?
    What’s the back-up plan?
    There has been no mention of a contingency plan, probably because there isn’t any contingency plan.
    This whole stupid augmentation is Bush’s ill conceived decision to thwart his daddy’s boys suggestions to get out with dignity because he, George W, is the Decider. He is the MAN.
    Well, put him on that gallows, convicted of murder, and let’s see if he shows the strength of character and dignity that Hussein did in his final moment. I think Bush and Cheney and the other two will all need diapers.
    I know that I would if I had done what they are doing.

  2. Paul

    This no holds barred approach is a recipe for chaos and random murder without accountability. The whole indefensible war is a study in lack of accountability. No accounting for the lies, the deaths, trhe murders, the game plan, the overtly non-patriotic actions of the US administration. Jefferson must be rolling in his grave.

  3. David Rosenberg

    The comment made by Khalilzad has very chilling tones. Saying that Military Commanders can go into any area, not needing political okays or instructions not to do this or that, brings up images of dead civilins, young and old. It might as well been said, Shoot first, ask questions later. It was stressed that this is an Iraqi led formula with American troops with them all the way. Is this supposed to mean bush did not make the decisions, he was speaking for the Iraqis? That is a hard pill to swallow.
    I foresee a great deal of blood spilled, on both sides.
    Will this work? A lot will depend on who is shooting who. Can Shiites kill Shiiets or will Shiiets in the Iraqi Army only go into Sunni neighborhoods and areas? Will people have to prove who they are, not to be shot?
    For a moment, let’s say this works, how long after will our troops start to go home? What will become of the areas where permenant bases were built for American troops, will they be filled or will Iraqis use them? How large a force will stay in Kuwait, just in case?
    On the other hand, what will happen if Iran steps in or Syria, or has that been factored in already? There has been much talk of the US attacking Iran, is this the spring board for it? If Iran or Syria join in, will other Countries come to eithers aid? Will this be the start of WWIII or worse?
    There are too many unknowns to allow this to happen. Congress MUST cut the funding to stop this madness. They MUST also start Impeachment of bush and cheney, they cannot be allowed to cause more damage.