Bush Finishing Up Iraq Plan - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

1/8/07-Washington, D.C.

Bush Finishing Up Iraq Plan

 As President Bush's new Iraq plan nears completion, sources familiar with the deliberations say White House speechwriters worked "around the clock" over the weekend to prepare the address for the plan's critical midweek unveiling.

Over the next few days, the president is to review and rework the speech for its Wednesday prime-time delivery.

As of Friday, the plan was being dubbed "A New Way Forward."

While the plan is not final, three sources familiar with the deliberations said there are aspects of it that have been widely agreed upon.

U.S. troops

Sources said the plan will call for sending at least 20,000 U.S. troops to Baghdad and perhaps other areas in the region.

They said the debate within the administration has been whether to send them all in as a "big bang" force right away or phase them in from month-to-month, contingent on whether the Iraqis meet certain political and military goals.

As one put it: "The whole struggle -- has been for weeks and even months -- is: what is (Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki) going to do about (radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr)?"

Sources said the phased-in approach "seems to be winning the day."

"It also allows the Pentagon to get its people ready to go," one said.

Sources said the White House is working on putting in some elements favored by the Democrats and the Iraq Study Group. The elements include expanded training of Iraqi forces, redeployment of some U.S. troops outside of Iraq -- in places like Kuwait -- and beefing up reconstruction projects.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, cautioned Bush Sunday that if he calls for additional U.S. troops to be sent to Iraq, he will have to show the Democratic-controlled Congress why even more money should be poured into the war. (Full story)

Iraqi troops

The plan calls for expanding the training program of Iraqi forces by the U.S. military.

Al-Maliki

Sources said Bush will talk about his faith in al-Maliki to confront the sectarian violence between the Sunni insurgency and Shiite militias.

Reconstruction

Sources said the plan will include a new jobs program -- what one source called a "make work program similar to the New Deal." It is expected to cost at least a billion dollars.

This is in addition to pursuing other reconstruction projects with unused monies.

As one person put it: "There's also a lot in the pipeline, money on reconstruction that hasn't been used. People would build a water tower, or electric plant, get shot at and leave."

One source said the thinking is that "the administration is trying to bridge a gap, to get the Iraqis to survive, to help those caught in the middle. Give them a job, and the chance to make a few bucks."

The plan will expand the Commander's Emergency Response Program that provides jobs for Iraqis.

The State Department will beef up its "provincial reconstruction teams" -- agency officials who coordinate local reconstruction with Iraqi companies.

One source said: "The economy is dysfunctional because of lack of security."

Iran/Syria

Sources said the president will tell the nation in his address why he believes it is not a good idea to engage Iran or Syria directly in talks regarding Iraq.

The Middle East

Sources said Bush also will call for a renewed effort to bring about peace between the Israelis and Palestinians.

They said it is something that British Prime Minister Tony Blair has been urging.

The Sell

Sources said Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is scheduled to leave Friday for an extensive trip through the Middle East and Europe to sell the president's plan. On what could be an expanding itinerary, her stops will include Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Germany, England and Saudi Arabia.

Source: CNN Newsource

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