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Iraq: Robert Gates has a task in hand

Iraq continues to burn in Shia-Sunni tensions even as Robert gates prepares to take over Iraq strategy in the USA.

November 11, 2006

US readies itself for a shift in Iraq strategy, as Robert Gates takes over from Ronald Rumsfeld. However, Baghdad continued to burn and violence continued unabated as two car bombs in a marketplace killing eight people. Insurgents and sectarian groups are targeting Iraqi security forces as a protest against the Iraqi government and its US supporters, said reports. The car bombs also wounded at least 38 when they exploded in quick succession in central Shorja market.

In separate incidents, gunmen stopped three minibuses carrying Shi'ites in the town of Latifiya, south of Baghdad, killed nine passengers and kidnapped 13 others. 

Meanwhile, in the United States, Pentagon's top general, Peter Pace, has said US military leaders are preparing to recommend changes in Iraq strategy. The Iraq Study Group, led by Bush family friend and former secretary of state James Baker and former congressman Lee Hamilton, is also looking at alternative approaches. 

Bush has chosen former CIA director Robert Gates, who is expected to be more inclined to consensus-building than the combative Donald Rumsfeld, who quit following the election outcome. Robert Gates, who has been termed by Bush as an agent of change, is expected to provide a fresh outlook on America’s strategy in Iraq, and what it needs to do to prevail.

Acknowledged voter frustration over Iraq as a reason for the success of Democrats that swept them to power in both houses of Congress for the first time in 12 years, Bush said a quick withdrawal of US troops from Iraq is not being considered. The White House is said to be pushing to get Gates confirmed in the final weeks of the outgoing Congress, before power switches to Democrats early next year. 

Meanwhile, as Defense Secretary, Gates will need to stop chaos in Iraq, where the presence of some 150,000 US troops has failed to do stop sectarian violence and insurgent attacks that kill hundreds of thousands of civilians.




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