In a news conference today, President Bush said that he now sees political progress in Iraq that is “matching” the security gains achieved last year:
It was clear from my discussions [with Prime Minister Maliki] that there’s great hope in Iraq, that the Iraqis are beginning to see political progress that is matching the dramatic security gains for the past year.
But Pentagon officials are wary of sounding such an optimistic note, particularly on “political progress.” In fact, they say more difficult times are ahead.
Today at the Heritage Foundation, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Middle Eastern Affairs Mark Kimmitt said 2008 will be “far more difficult” than 2007 for the U.S. strategy because “it depends far more on the Iraqis themselves to show progress on key legislation, on their economy, and reconciliation.
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