US President is to announce new strategy for Iraq

U.S. President George Bush is expected to announce his new strategy for Iraq. The changes could see an increase in the number of troops by up to 20,000. This proposal has already generated a mixed response in Washington.

George W. Bush will announce an overhaul of US policy in Iraq, repackaged as a tactical military adjustment. It will be a last-ditch attempt to stem the tide of growing violence in Iraq.

A 20-30,000 troops surge in a current military strategy in Iraq, “clear, hold and build”, could provide a temporary boost to clear Baghdad and Anbar province, but it will be hardly adequate to tackle the “hold and build” part of the strategy. Many believe the surge will provide enough troops to aggravate the locals, but not enough to restore law and order across the country.

In addition, critics said that a troop surge in Iraq may provoke a ratcheted escalation and degenerate into massive troop build-up with no end in sight while public patience and support quickly running out. It will further undermine security preconditions to jump-start reconciliation and reconstruction in Iraq.

That is why, ahead of Mr Bush's address to the nation on America's revised strategy in Iraq, Democrat Senator Edward Kennedy proposed blocking the President from sending more troops to Iraq unless Congress approves.

Meanwhile, deliberate and painstaking efforts were made to avoid the negative connotation of Vietnam-era military build-up.

However, the paratroopers will lead the way. The 82d Airborne Division will spearhead the surge by airlifting to Iraq its second Brigade before February. The mission is to honeycomb and seal off Baghdad, where American and Iraqi troops fought a 10-hour street battle with insurgents on Tuesday.

Moreover, the Special Forces deployed along the Afghan-Pakistan border to hunt for Al-Qaeda and Taliban, may take respite in the winter lull of hostilities and send their Arab-speaking teams to join the fray in Iraq.

The overall objective of the surge operation is to hand control of the country to Iraqi forces by November 2007, with US forces on a stand-by, assuming back-up and advisory role.

The initial build-up will be accomplished by speeding up deployments of units bound to Iraq this summer.

Meanwhile, Iraqi forces joined U.S. troops on the streets of Baghdad, as part of a new security plan put forward by the country's prime minister Nouri al-Maliki. The plan includes moving in Iraqi troops from the north and putting more on the street.

American helicopters and military jets provided air support for armed raids targeting militants, in the latest attempt to bring violence in the city under control.

Eleven people were arrested as a result of this operation, according to the Iraqi defence minister. It is the latest attempt to round up insurgents whose attacks claim dozens of lives every week.

On Monday a roadside bomb wounded 3 policemen in the south-east of the Iraqi capital and in a separate incident gunmen seized a bus carrying workers to Baghdad airport, killing 9 and wounding 11.

Days after the Iraqi Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, unveiled a new security plan, there is still little evidence of gun battles quieting down in Baghdad, but there is some optimism.

Many Iraqis blame escalating violence on US intervention – and see the removal of foreign troops as Iraq's only way forward. Whether that is in sight the Iraqis will find out when  U.S. President George W. Bush addresses his nation on the destiny of American troops in Iraq.