The US’s top military commander in Iraq will continue giving evidence to Congress today, in a hearing seen as a pivotal moment in the debate over the war. Yesterday,General David Petraeus said progress is being made after the recent troop surge and sectarian violence is on the wane: “I believe Iraq’s problems will require a long-term effort. There are no easy answers or quick solutions. And although we both believe this effort can succeed, it will take time. Our assessments underscore, in fact, the importance of recognising that a premature draw-down of our forces would likely have devastating consequences.”
Both General Petraeus and the US Ambassador to Iraq, Ryan Crocker, have been testifying. However, Democrat Ike Skelton believes political progress is not being made: “One of the great ironies of this hearing today is that General Petraeus, who sits here before us, is almost certainly the right man for the job in Iraq. But he is the right person three years too late and 250 000 troops short.”
Petraeus suggested numbers could be reduced to pre-surge levels by next summer. This, however, did nothing to pacify the feelings of anti-war demonstrators in the audience, who were swiftly removed by security.