The US President has vowed to take “very seriously” the recommendations of an influential bipartisan panel on Iraq. In its much anticipated report, the Iraq Study Group says the US approach is not working and a diplomatic effort must be launched to halt what it calls a “grave and deteriorating” crisis.
The group’s findings set the stage for potential changes in US tactics. There is no timetable for a withdrawal of US troops, but the Democratic co-chairman Lee Hamiliton says action is needed sooner rather than later: “First: a change in the primary mission of US forces in Iraq that will enable the US to begin to move its combat forces out of Iraq responsibly,” he said. “Second – we need prompt action by the Iraqi government to achieve milestones particularly on national reconciliation. And thirdly, we need a new and enhanced diplomatic and political efforts in Iraq and in the region,” he added.
Republican chairman and former Secretary of State James Baker says regional diplomacy is needed to end the war: “That support group should include Iraq of course but also all of Iraq neighbours including Iran and Syria.” The new US Defence Secretary, Richard Gates, was part of the group and he has already made it clear that he intends to introduce a change of tactics.