US Democrat Senator and presidential hopeful Barack Obama’s Iraq withdrawal plan, which is under attack by Prime Minister John Howard, calls for the removal of all US combat brigades by March 31, 2008.
The Democrat senator has dubbed the plan the Iraq War De-Escalation Act of 2007.
It calls for the “phased redeployment” of US troops out of Iraq and is the cornerstone of his plan to topple Democrat presidential rivals, Hillary Rodham Clinton and John Edwards, and the Republican Party’s candidate in the 2008 race for the White House.
“It’s time for a policy that can bring a responsible end to this war and bring our troops home,” the charismatic 45-year-old senator from Chicago, who would be the first African American US president if elected in 2008, said when he announced the plan late last month.
The key points of Mr Obama’s plan are:
- Stop the escalation – cap the number of US troops in Iraq at the number in Iraq on January 10, 2007. The cap has the force of law and could not be lifted without explicit congressional authorisation.
- De-escalate the war with phased redeployment – commence a phased redeployment of US troops out of Iraq not later than May 1, 2007, with the goal that all combat brigades redeploy from Iraq by March 31, 2008, a date consistent with the expectation of the Iraq Study Group. A residual US presence may remain in Iraq for force protection, training of Iraqi security forces, and pursuit of international terrorists.
- Congressional oversight – requires US President George W. Bush to submit reports to congress every 90 days describing and assessing the Iraqi government’s progress in meeting benchmarks and the redeployment goals.
- Intensified training – intensify training of Iraqi security forces to enable the country to take over security responsibility of the country.
- Conditions on economic assistance – conditions future economic assistance to the government of Iraq on significant progress toward achievement of benchmarks. Allows exceptions for humanitarian, security and job-creation assistance.
- Regional diplomacy – launch a comprehensive regional and international diplomatic initiative, that includes key nations in the region, to help achieve a political settlement among the Iraqi people, end the civil war in Iraq, and prevent a humanitarian catastrophe and regional conflict. The president should appoint a special envoy for Iraq to carry out this diplomacy within 60 days.
- Mandates that the president submit a plan to prevent the war in Iraq from becoming a wider regional conflict.