Friday, August 10, 2007

U.S.-Sponsored Study: Withdrawal may be 'impossible to resist' unless violence falls

Above: The scene at a crowded market after a suicide car bombing in Kirkuk today, killing at least 8 and wounding dozens.

A US withdrawal from Iraq may be "impossible to resist" unless violence against civilians falls substantially, a study funded by the US Air Force warned Wednesday.

The study by the RAND Corporation said that reducing violence against Iraqi civilians should be the primary objective of US strategy as long as US forces are in Iraq.

And it said the United States was likely to continue its approach to stabilizing the country "until and unless violence escalates to the point that US officials decide that withdrawal is preferable."

But it added that "we are not optimistic about success in the near term" and warned that pressure to withdraw US troops will become more and more difficult to resist if they cannot reduce the violence.

"If the number of Iraqis who die violently does not fall substantially by the summer of 2007, domestic political pressure to withdraw US forces may become impossible to resist," the report said.

US military officials say the surge in US forces this year has dampened the violence.

But figures compiled by three Iraqi ministries and seen by AFP show that civilian deaths rose to 1,652 in July -- a third more than the previous month, and slightly more than in February, the first month of surge.

Read the rest at Yahoo News