Do you remember that chart?
It was the most memorable of the briefing slides Gen. David Petraeus took with him to Capitol Hill last September. And then, as now, it’s all about the question marks.
Today, Petraeus is expected to tell Congress that we ought to wait and see before further reducing troop levels. Petraeus will tout the success of the surge, while at the same time acknowledging failures that require a continued U.S. presence in Iraq. Sure, violence has dropped, but as The New York Times reports this morning, “[a]fter an overall decline in attacks against civilians and American and Iraqi security forces in Baghdad over the past several months, the number more than doubled in March from the previous month.” But, on the other hand, that recent violence is all the more reason to delay further troop withdrawals, isn’t it?
And The Washington Post is ready for a similar theme:
Petraeus is expected to cite Iranian assistance to Mahdi Army forces as another reason to carefully consider any further troop withdrawals. But U.S. intelligence officials have noted that Iran has also provided training and weapons to all Shiite militias, including those allied with Maliki. “One reality of Basra is that you have Iranian-influenced organizations fighting each other,” said one intelligence official. “On multiple levels, Iran has its hooks” in all of them, the official added.
We’ll be providing continuing updates on the hearings throughout the day.
Note: Here’s one thing to watch for. You can be sure that this time around, Petraeus will have a better answer to this question.
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