Three Iraqi Lawmakers Discuss U.S. Strategy The infusion of 30,000 more American troops into Iraq began six months ago. As the Sept. 15 deadline approaches for assessing the situation on the ground, Day to Day is posing the same question to six different categories of players. This week, we focus on Iraqi politicians.
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Three Iraqi Lawmakers Discuss U.S. Strategy

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Three Iraqi Lawmakers Discuss U.S. Strategy

Three Iraqi Lawmakers Discuss U.S. Strategy

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This is DAY TO DAY. I'm Alex Chadwick.


And I'm Madeleine Brand.

President GEORGE W. BUSH: I've committed more than 20,000 additional American troops to Iraq.

Unidentified Man #1: I see progress, a steady progress.

Unidentified Man #2: The new security plan failed.

Unidentified Man #3: It's a hard thing to change from a dictatorship around the democracy.

Unidentified Man #4: Do the Iraqi people feel better about today than they did about yesterday?

BRAND: This week we continue our series on the surge in Iraq. The deployment of an additional 30,000 troops - 21,000 combat and 9,000 support - began in February. Next month, General David Petraeus will release his much-awaited assessment of the situation on the ground in Iraq. In the weeks leading up to that report, we are doing our own assessment of sorts, asking the question of a variety of players, is Iraq better or worse off since the surge began?

CHADWICK: And this week we are hearing from two Iraqi politicians. First to Adnan Pachachi. He is a Sunni political elder with the Iraqi National List, which just withdrew from cabinet level meetings of the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Mr. Pachachi says that they've lost faith in the government's effectiveness. I asked him how things have changed since the surge.

Mr. ADNAN PACHACHI (Former Iraqi Foreign Minister): Well, I wish I could tell you that things have improved dramatically or appreciably, but they have not. In fact, in many instances the situation is perhaps worse. This Green Zone now is much more vulnerable than it was before. And there are more accurate mortar bombs coming in to the Green Zone, more accurately and most frequently.

Then the situation in Baghdad itself, the sectarian killings unfortunately have subsided for a while. But then unfortunately they have been on the rise again now.

But of course the big improvement has been a very noticeable reduction in the casualties among the coalition forces.

CHADWICK: The month of July was the lowest number of American casualties anyway...


CHADWICK: about eight or nine months.

Mr. PACHACHI: But I wish that I could say the same about the Iraqi casualties, because there have been quite a heavy number of casualties in Baghdad because of the suicide bombers, and also the sectarian killings have returned. So as far as Iraqis are concerned, there has not been any noticeable improvement.

CHADWICK: Mr. Pachachi, why do you think the surge hasn't produced better results?

Mr. PACHACHI: Because the political situation, you know, did not improve. I have spoken to General Petraeus when I was in Baghdad some time ago, and he said that the whole idea of the surge is that - to give the government the opportunity and the breathing space to take the measures that it has the province to take. Well, nothing of the kind has happened.

CHADWICK: Give the government time to kind of get on its feet and adjusted.

Mr. PACHACHI: Yeah. And the government did not do that because it is unable to do that by the mere fact of its composition. And therefore I believe the problem is that, you know, the United States really has put a lot of faith and hope in the government and its performance. And I'm afraid that government has failed its promise.

CHADWICK: What do you see next?

Mr. PACHACHI: I mean the situation with the government has become really quite untenable. I mean it can't go on - you know, the prime minister tried to appoint new ministers, replacing the Sadrists, and he was unable to because there was very strong opposition in parliament. Therefore I think we have to find a way to get a new government that really does not follow the strict sectarian divisions, but rather to get the Iraq people for the right jobs because Iraq needs service, and expeditiously. You know, everything is not functioning properly. The electricity, of course, the security, the water treatment, the medical services, the educational services - I mean, the country is in total chaos, you know. This can't go on.

CHADWICK: Adnan Pachachi, a member of the Iraqi parliament. Mr. Pachachi, thank you for speaking with us.

Mr. PACHACHI: Thank you.

CHADWICK: And now to Mahmoud Othman. He is a part of the Kurdistan coalition, the second biggest block of Iraq's parliament. He says the surge has been a mixed bag for Iraq overall.

Mr. MAHMOUD OTHMAN (Member, Interim Iraq Governing Council): The main thing which has changed is the influence of al-Qaida. Maybe Iranians having more careful about going into Iraq like that because Americans are more here. But as far as reconciliation, services, unemployment, I'm afraid it hasn't affected much.

CHADWICK: I wonder if you can see any difference in Kurdistan from the surge, from the effects of the surge, because things are different - a little bit anyway - in other parts of the country. Does that affect your region?

Mr. OTHMAN: Well, I'm afraid that in part it has affected the region negatively because al-Qaida has been hit hard in Baghdad, in Anbar, in Diyala. Those people have been running away from those areas, those are our areas. So some operations in Kirkuk has increased, and in Mosul also it has increased. And so sometimes we like these attacks because we think al-Qaida is a big enemy, but at the same time there is a bit of spillover to our area.

CHADWICK: Mr. Othman, what do you think will happen if the U.S. begins to withdraw its troops from Iraq?

Mr. OTHMAN: Well, I think if withdrawal come quickly (unintelligible) it will be negative because we will have maybe more in general fighting between - and the al-Qaida will be - will come back to the scene to be stronger. Iran and al-Qaida will benefit; it's very bad, really. That's why I hope the withdrawal will be gradual and according to a timetable that fits both sides. And I hope the Americans wouldn't leave the country before dealing with al-Qaida and the other dangers we have because al-Qaida and the other terrorists, they came to this country mainly after the American toppling of Saddam.

CHADWICK: Mahmoud Othman, a Kurdish member of the Iraqi government. Mr. Othman, thank you for speaking with us.

Mr. OTHMAN: Thank you.

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