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1305White House: U.S. may withdraw before violence ends in Iraq

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  • Greg Cannon
    Nov 30, 2005
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      White House sees years of Iraq violence
      Wed Nov 30, 2005 9:36 AM ET162

      By Tabassum Zakaria

      WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House said on
      Wednesday that Iraq was likely to struggle with
      violence for many years, but as its forces
      increasingly take over security, U.S. troops can
      eventually withdraw.

      President George W. Bush, in a speech at the U.S.
      Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, is expected to
      try and counter criticism that his administration
      lacks a clear Iraq strategy.

      Before the speech, the White House released a document
      titled, "Our National Strategy for Victory in Iraq,"
      repeating the Bush administration's stance that
      setting a timetable for withdrawing U.S. troops from
      Iraq would be harmful because it would embolden the

      "No war has ever been won on a timetable -- and
      neither will this one," the document said.

      Bush has been battling rising criticism including
      calls for a troop withdrawal and public
      dissatisfaction over his handling of Iraq where a
      violent insurgency is raging.

      More than 2,100 U.S. troops have died and nearly
      16,000 more have been wounded since the March 2003
      U.S.-led invasion.

      The White House document said it was "not realistic"
      to expect a fully functioning democracy able to defeat
      its enemies less than three years after Saddam Hussein
      was toppled.

      The White House, which is on the offensive against
      critics who say the United States has become mired in
      a conflict without a clear plan, cited political
      progress in establishing a democracy with elections
      scheduled December 15.

      Democrats say Bush must come out with a specific exit


      The White House document defines "the enemy" as
      largely members of three groups that oppose the new
      Iraq and each must be handled differently. "Exploiting
      these differences within the enemy is a key element of
      our strategy," it said.

      "Rejectionists" were the largest group, mainly Sunni
      Arabs who had power under Saddam. "We judge that over
      time many in this group will increasingly support a
      democratic Iraq provided that the federal government
      protects minority rights and the legitimate interests
      of all communities," the document said.

      "Saddamists" loyal to the former leader dream of
      re-establishing a dictatorship. "We judge that few
      from this group can be won over to support a
      democratic Iraq, but that this group can be
      marginalized to the point where it can and will be
      defeated by Iraqi forces," it said.

      "Terrorists" affiliated or inspired by al Qaeda are
      the smallest, but most lethal group and an immediate
      threat. "This group cannot be won over and must be
      defeated -- killed or captured -- through sustained
      counterterrorism operations," the document said.

      Terrorism and insurgencies historically take many
      years to defeat. "Iraq is likely to struggle with some
      level of violence for many years to come," it said.

      Lack of a troop withdrawal timetable does not mean the
      U.S. stance will remain static, the White House said.
      "We expect, but cannot guarantee, that our force
      posture will change over the next year, as the
      political process advances and Iraqi security forces
      grow and gain experience," the document said.

      As of November there were more than 212,000 trained
      and equipped Iraqi security forces compared with
      96,000 in September 2004, the White House document

      (Additional reporting by Steve Holland)