The Pentagon says the pace of insurgent attacks in Iraq in recent weeks is approaching last year's levels.
Officials say there have been about 400 attacks a week of all kinds after a post-election lull: bombings, shootings, rocket and mortar attacks. About half cause significant damage or injure or kill someone.
After months of haggling over the makeup of Iraq's post-Saddam Hussein government, Prime Minister-designate Ibrahim al-Jaafari has completed a draft list of Cabinet ministers that he is submitting to the president, a spokesman said Tuesday.
Lawmakers said that under the proposal, Shiites would get the majority of the 32 ministries, with the others distributed among Kurdish, Sunni and Christian factions. Three deputy premiers are also proposed — one each from the majority Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds.
Air Force General Richard Myers — chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff — and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld dispute that the increase in violent attacks represents a lack of progress.
A defense official says about 60 people — including Iraqis, Americans and other foreigners — are injured or killed daily in attacks.
In Other Developments:
Prime Minister-designate Ibrahim al-Jaafari discussed his proposal with President Jalal Talabani on Tuesday, the premier's spokesman, Abdul Razak al-Kadhimi, said. But some members of al-Jaafari's United Iraqi Alliance later said the meeting never took place; it was not possible to verify their claim.
Talabani's three-member presidential council must sign off on the list before it is submitted to the 275-member National Assembly for a vote. Talabani already indicated he would not exercise his veto, and lawmakers said a vote could take place as soon as Wednesday.
However, such predictions have repeatedly proved false since Cabinet negotiations began after parliamentary elections Jan. 30.
Late Tuesday, al-Jaafari went back for further talks with Abdel Aziz al-Hakim, head of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, and other members of his Shiite-dominated alliance to discuss the candidates for the Cabinet, lawmakers said.
Alliance lawmaker Dhia al-Shakarchi said Shiite leaders raised concerns that some of the Sunni candidates might have had links to terrorist groups and to Saddam Hussein's Baath Party, which brutally repressed Shiites and Kurds.
Under al-Jaafari's proposal, Iraq's Shiites would head 17 ministries, said Ali al-Adib and Hadi al-Ameri, lawmakers in the alliance, which holds 148 seats in parliament. Eight ministries would go to the alliance's Kurdish allies, six to Sunni Arab groups and one to a Christian faction, they said.
Fouad Massoum, a senior member of Talabani's Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, confirmed most of the breakdown, but was not aware a Christian would get a post.
Hoping to end the haggling, al-Jaafari decided to appoint three deputy prime ministers — one each from the country's main ethnic and religious groups, lawmakers said.
Absent from the proposed Cabinet was outgoing Prime Minister Ayad Allawi's Iraqi List party, which had asked for at least four ministries, including a senior post, and a deputy premiership. The Iraqi List has 40 seats in the National Assembly.
Shiite lawmakers said Sunday they had given up trying to balance Allawi's demands with those of Sunni factions that could offer help in beginning talks with Sunni militants, who are believed to be the backbone of the insurgency.
Many Shiites have long resented the secular Allawi, accusing his outgoing administration of including former Baathist in the government and security forces.
Iraqi politicians have been under increasing U.S. pressure to get a transitional government formed, so they can focus on taking over efforts to suppress the insurgency.