Congress shaping up for showdown with Bush over Iraq

Despite the daily and deadly violence in Iraq the long awaited report from the top U.S. commander in the country is expected to present a more optimistic picture.

The rumours are that David Petraeus will say there has been a 75% drop in sectarian attacks since the 'surge' of U.S. troops.

With the summer break over in Washington, Congress is back in full swing, anxiously awaiting a report due next week by General David Petraeus. The top commander in Iraq is expected to show a 75% decrease in sectarian attacks since the controversial troop surge began.

But the recently released Government Accountability Office report on Iraq draws different conclusions."

“Clearly some progress has been made in Al-Anbar province, in parts of Baghdad, clearly as a result of the surge. The question is why? Is it transferable? Is it sustainable? And the real question for this congress is not what's happened in the past, but where do we stand now, and what's the proper way forward?” pointed out David Walker, U.S. Comptroller General, Washington, DC.

A number of Congressional Democrats say that the Iraqi government has failed to meet benchmarks for progress, so U.S. troops should stand down.

“It's not clear to me why we should continue to move ahead with this strategy at the cost of American lives and dollars if the Iraqis are not stepping forward,” confessed Ike Skelton, Chairman, House Armed Services Committee, Washington, D.C.

In a surprise move President Bush traveled to Iraq earlier in the week to meet with U.S. troops and defend his campaign to stay the course in the war-torn country.

“If we began to draw out troops from Iraq, it would be from a position of strength and success, not from a position of fear and failure,” said George Bush, U.S. President, Iraq.

But with the growing human cost of the Iraq War, selling the “Stay the Course” policy to Americans may be easier said than done. A lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union accuses the Bush Administration of suppressing information on the number of civilian and military deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan. Some observers say the solution to Iraq's problems may lie in engaging international partners in the reconstruction efforts.

“Other countries must be engaged in the recovery of Iraqi economy. Russians have been working in Iraq for decades. Many specialists in Iraq speak Russian because they got a Russian education,” proposed Vladimir Isaev, Deputy Director of the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Science, Moscow.

Just ahead of General Petraeus's Iraq Progress Report some Democratic congressmen are threatening to propose troop funding legislation that can only be used to bring U.S. forces back home. And with White House advisors recommending that the current strategy remains intact until next spring, President Bush may be faced with another showdown with Congress in the coming weeks.