Nytt

Pentagon er i all stillhet begynt å forberede at de ekstra troppestyrkene i Irak blir stående i landet til inn i 2008.

Hvis Irak skal ha håp om å komme på bena må det skapes betingelser som gjør at den politiske prosessen kan komme i gang: dvs. at sunniene og shiaene finner frem til et brukbart samarbeid.

Det skjedde én viktig ting som kan bidra i den retning: Nye analyser viser at Irak trolig har dobbelt så store oljereserver som antatt. En god del av de nye reservene ligger i ørkenen i Anbar-provinsen, som er sunnienes kjerneområdene. Dermed er det ikke bare shiaer og kurdere som sitter på olje, men også de detroniserte sunniene. Dette kan få stor betydning.

En må også regne med at nyheten om oljereservene ble viet stor oppmerksomhet i Washington og på Wall Street. Irak er rett og slett for verdifull til å la «go down the drain». Hva vil kombinasjonen av Iran og Iraks oljerikdommer bety i politisk makt og innflytelse? må være en tanke som uroer både sunni-hovedsteder som vestlige.

If the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki does manage to achieve the political milestones demanded by Washington, then the U.S. military probably will be told to sustain the troop buildup much longer than originally foreseen — possibly well into 2008. Thus the early planning for keeping it up beyond late summer.

More than half of the extra 21,500 combat troops designated for Baghdad duty have arrived; the rest are due by June. Already it is evident that putting them in the most hotly contested parts of the capital is taking a toll. An average of 22 U.S. troops have died per week in April, the highest rate so far this year.

«This is certainly a price that we’re paying for this increased security,» Adm. William Fallon, the senior U.S. commander in the Middle East, told a House committee Wednesday. He also said the United States does not have «a ghost of a chance» of success in Iraq unless it can create «stability and security.»
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Frederick Kagan of the American Enterprise Institute, whose January report on changing the U.S. military strategy in Iraq was largely adopted as part of Bush’s new approach to the war, said in an interview Thursday that it appears the administration believes it will have to sustain the troop buildup much longer.

«They seem to be taking the steps that would make it possible to sustain it for longer, which is good,» Kagan said. «But they seem to be reluctant to commit to a willingness to do that, which I think is unfortunate.»

Kagan says the troops, the Iraqi government and the insurgents all ought to be convinced that U.S. forces will keep up the pressure, particularly in the most contested neighborhoods in Baghdad, for at least another year.

«If I were running the show I would say, ‘Look, everyone should assume that we’re going to sustain this through 2008 — the Iraqis should assume that, too — and if we can turn it off sooner, then everyone would be happy,» Kagan said.

Men Irak sliter på troppene og deres familier. Nylig forlenget Pentagon tjenestetiden i Irak fra 12 til 15 måneder.

Analysis: Iraq surge may be extended