Bush Plan Meets With Global Skepticism

Iraqis watch President Bush in a televised address to the United States, in Basra, Iraq, 340 miles southeast of Baghdad, Thursday Jan. 11, 2007. AP Photo

Iraq's government welcomed President Bush's new strategy and promised it was committed to making sure it succeeds. But ordinary Iraqis gave it mixed reviews, with many expressing skepticism that an increase in U.S. troops would quell the violence ransacking their country.

A Sunni lawmaker also rejected Bush's plan to send more troops, calling instead for a timetable for them to withdraw and for direct negotiations with insurgents.

"Bush's plan could be the last attempt to fix the chaos created after the invasion of Iraq. Yet, sending more troops will not end the problem, on the contrary, there will be more bloodshed," said Sunni lawmaker Hussein al-Falluji.

"The increase of occupation troops in Iraq is unacceptable and rejected. We are looking forward to the departure of these troops from the country," said Falah Shanshil, a Shiite lawmaker.

CBS News chief foreign correspondent Lara Logan says "Iraqis have been talking about nothing else all day, and most of the people we've spoken to say they do not want more U.S. troops here. They don't believe this is going to help."

Ali Hussein, a Baghdad resident, said: "Iraqis are coherent people and they are not in need of additional troops. The important thing is the departure of the occupation troops. The country will be okay if the troops leave it."

Mr. Bush's plan was met with strong skepticism across the broader Mideast, where many predicted that even with more soldiers, America would fail to break the cycle of violence.

Many saw the surge in troops as a desperate move that will only increase the United States' failures in Iraq — and could deepen the sectarian divides in the war-fractured country, leading to more bloodshed.

There were deep doubts that U.S. troops, or the Shiite-led Iraqi government, would tackle what many in the Sunni-dominated Arab world see as the chief threat to Iraq: Shiite militias, blamed for fueling the cycle of sectarian slayings.

Mustafa al-Ani, a military analyst with the Gulf Research Center in Dubai, said the American military has to take down the Shiite militias — particularly the most feared of them, the Mahdi Army, loyal to cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, an ally of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Otherwise, the U.S. will lose any suppport among Iraq's Sunnis.

The president's announcement won quick support, however, from U.S. allies in the war as a crucial step toward stabilizing the country and battling terrorism.

The leaders of South Korea, Australia and Japan — all longtime supporters of the U.S.-led mission in Iraq — pledged continued political backing and material help to the beleaguered war effort.

"If America retreats in Iraq, then that has enormous consequences for the stability of the Middle East and it will also be an enormous boost to terrorism in our part of the world," Australian Prime Minister John Howard said in Sydney.

Howard, whose country has 1,300 troops in and around Iraq, called Bush's plan to boost the U.S. presence by more than 20,000 troops "very clear, calm and above all, realistic."
  • Tucker Reals

    Tucker Reals is the CBSNews.com foreign editor, based at the CBS News London bureau.

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