Washington awaits Iraq reports


After months of speculation, the top U.S. military official in Iraq and the U.S. ambassador to Baghdad will testify today to Congress on progress and pitfalls in Iraq.

The Washington Post reports that despite the spotlight on General David Petraeus, the testimony of Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker “may carry far more import for the long-term future of Iraq and the U.S. presence there.”

Petraeus is expected to say that expanded U.S. military operations in Iraq are showing limited signs of progress and argue for six more months before considering reductions in the main body of U.S. forces, but the Post piece says Crocker’s testimony may make appeals for time a “tougher sell.”

Concerns over Iraqi political reconciliation were echoed by retired U.S. Marine General James Jones. Speaking on NBC’s Meet the Press, Jones pointed to signs of military progress but said missing is the “reconciliation that the government has not been able to achieve.” A new BBC/ABC opinion poll of Iraqis suggest the majority believe the U.S. troop surge has been a failure. Nonetheless, a rapid withdrawal of troops remains unlikely, even if Petraeus calls for small-scale reductions.

Separately, the U.S. military is reportedly planning to build a military base for U.S. troops near the Iran-Iraq border to try to suppress the flow of Iranian weaponry across the border into Iraq.

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