LOS ANGELES (AFP) – A special panel on Iraq created by the US Congress but backed by the administration of President George W. Bush plans to propose major changes in the US strategy in the country by early next year, The Los Angeles Times reported.
Citing unnamed members of the group, the newspaper said that two options under consideration would represent reversals of US policy: withdrawing American troops in phases, and bringing neighboring Iran and Syria into a joint effort to stop the fighting.
The 10-member commission headed by former secretary of state James Baker has agreed that change must be made, the report said.
“It’s not going to be ‘stay the course,'” the paper quotes one participant as saying. “The bottom line is, (current policy) isn’t working. There’s got to be another way.”
If the panel recommends overhauling Bush’s approach to Iraq, it could give a boost not only to critics of current policy but also to officials in the administration who have argued for broad changes, The Times said.
It’s unclear how willing Bush is to change his strategy, which focuses on improving security in Baghdad, training Iraqi security forces, and pressing the Iraqi government to forge a political agreement among warring factions, the paper said.
When the panel was formed in March, some administration officials hoped it would produce a bipartisan endorsement of existing policy, the report said.
But as sectarian violence in Iraq has worsened, more Republicans in Congress — and privately some administration officials — have become receptive to alternatives, The Times said.