In a surprise move George Bush visited Iraq on Monday September 3rd, accompanied by his defence secretary, Robert Gates, his secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, as well as the commander of America’s forces in Iraq, for a meeting with the country's prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki.
While General Petraeus will will state that some progress has been made on the military front the warring Shia and Sunni factions are as far apart as ever. There is little prospect of a unified Shia and Sunni government evolving. This is the kernel of the problem. The Shia majority having long suffered at the hands of the minority Sunnis is in no mood to be too conciliatory. The situation appears hopeless. Partition is inevitable.
This visit may boost George Bushes popularity in the polls temporarily but the reality is that he must develop a coherent strategy for withdrawal of US troops. No fixed date for final withdrawal should be set. This would play into the hands of terrorists. The process of withdrawal must have begun prior the 2008 elections. It must be gradual and noticeable. Otherwise the GOP will suffer severe losses in the Congressional Elections and lose the Presidency in 2008.
The British have shown the way in Basra. A planned withdrawal is the only realistic approach. It is time for Iraqis to assume responsibility for their own affairs.