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12 Jul, 2007 19:21

U.S. lower House approves troops withdrawal from Iraq

Defying a White House veto threat, the U.S. House of Representatives has approved legislation to bring combat troops out of Iraq by April 1, 2008. U.S. President George W. Bush, though, says the military campaign in Iraq must continue.

President Bush's summer is looking awfully bleak. The highly anticipated Iraq Progress report paints a picture of uncertainty of the situation in the war torn country. The interim report says of 18 benchmarks, the Iraqi government met only eight, failed on eight others, and had mixed reviews on two more. Still, President Bush argued that despite the bleak outlook, the U.S. can still win in Iraq.

“I believe we can succeed in Iraq, and I know we must. So we're working to defeat Al Qaeda and other extremists, and aid the rise of an Iraqi government that can protect its people, deliver basic services, and be an ally in the war against these extremists and radicals,” said Mr Bush.

With the clock ticking on the U.S. troop surge in Iraq, Congress will now try to issue the marching orders for the military. Feeling the heat from constituents, Democrats argue that the President’s strategy has failed and it is time to bring the troops home.

“These developments make it clear to me, many of my colleagues and foreign policy experts that it’s well past time for a change of course in Iraq,” stressed democratic majority leader Senator Harry Reid.

The White House's strategy to downplay the report is not reassuring to a growing chorus of Republican Senators who are calling for a new course in Iraq.

“Americans and most Senators want a new strategy, a different strategy,” believes Republican Senator Lamar Alexander.

And with growing Republican opposition to the Iraq war, it may signal that the party has lost faith in their leadership.

“I can't stress enough how important it is when your own party breaks rank, for a President that usually spells the end,” noted David Gergen, former White House Advisor.
With Americans confronted by images of coffins and military funerals nearly on a daily basis, opposition to the war has reached an all-time high. The latest USA Today poll, now says that 70 % of Americans want troops out of Iraq by next April.

So far President Bush has resisted changing the course, instead he calls for stronger regional alliances. High ranking U.S. officials, including Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates will travel to the region next month to improve diplomatic relations. The final report on U.S. progress in Iraq by General Petreaus is set to be delivered to Congress on September 15.