Main points of US plan

WASHINGTON (AFP) — President George W. Bush laid out the details Wednesday of a new US plan for Iraq in a major televised address.

Herewith the main points of the strategy:  

Troop surge

Bush said the US will gradually send more than 20,000 extra US troops into Iraq, in addition to the 132,000 currently in the country. Most of the new deployments would be to Baghdad, but 4,000 Marines will head to flash point Anbar province.

The Iraqi military command in the capital will be overhauled, and Iraqi and US troops will have a green light to enter any neighbourhoods they were previously kept from, particularly those believed fuelling sectarian violence.

Protect the Iraqi population

The primary security focus will be on helping Iraqi forces protect the population, especially in Baghdad, a shift from the previous priority of handing full security responsibility to Iraqis. But the plan aims to hand Iraq’s security forces full control of their country by November, though without spelling out consequences if the goal is not met.

Benchmarks for Iraqi government

The White House says the new plan will “place the responsibility for success on the Iraqis”, and Bush warned that the US commitment is “not open-ended”. Prime Minister Nouri Maliki is expected to draw minority Sunnis into politics, in part by sharing oil revenues under a planned new law. Some purged members of the Baath Party of executed leader Saddam Hussein are to be rehabilitated.

Economic aid

A new reconstruction coordinator will be named for the country to oversee a $1billion US programme for reconstruction and economic development.

The programme will emphasise job creation in Baghdad and Anbar, and double the number of joint military-civilian provincial reconstruction teams. Iraq is to commit $10 billion of its own funds to reconstruction.

Iran, Syria

A new initiative against Iranian and Syrian elements which the United States accuses of destabilising Iraq. There is no sign the Bush administration has overcome its reluctance to talk to its two foes over the plight of Iraq.

Patriot missile deployment

The United States will deploy Patriot anti-missile systems in the Middle East as well as an additional carrier strike group “to reassure our friends and allies”.

Funding

Bush will submit an additional budget request for $6.8 billion with Congress, over and above already planned annual spending for the war. The costs can be roughly broken down as follows:

— $5.6 billion for sending extra troops to Iraq.

— $414 million to expand provincial reconstruction teams run by the State Department.

— $400 million for “quick response” funds for reconstruction.

— $350 million for the commanders emergency response programme, a reconstruction effort run out of the Pentagon.

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