Finally …

Finally, we see lip service to the fact that the US will have to negotiate with the militants (read “terrorists” in Junior’s book) to stop the violence in Iraq. Well, duhhhh ….. Note, however, that this will remain rhetoric until real talks start.

U.S.: Iraqi insurgent attacks intensify
By LAUREN FRAYER, Associated Press Writer Thu Mar 8, 9:05 AM ET

BAGHDAD, Iraq – Insurgents have sought to intensify attacks during a Baghdad security crackdown and additional U.S. forces will be sent to areas outside the capital where militant groups are regrouping, the new commander of U.S. forces in
Iraq said Thursday.

U.S. Gen. David Petraeus said the troop buildups outside Baghdad will focus on Diyala province northeast of Baghdad, a growing hotbed for suspected Sunni extremists fleeing the U.S.-Iraqi security operation in Baghdad.

But Petraeus stressed that military force alone is “not sufficient” to end the violence in Iraq and political talks must eventually include some militant groups now opposing the U.S.-backed government.

“This is critical,” Petraeus said in his first news conference since taking over command last month. He noted that such political negotiations “will determine in the long run the success of this effort.”

Petraeus listed a series of high-profile attacks since U.S. and Iraqi forces began the security sweep three weeks ago, including a suicide blast at a mostly Shiite university and an assassination attempt against one of Iraq’s vice presidents.

Pentagon has pledged 17,500 combat troops to the capital. Petraeus has said the full contingent should not be in place until early June. He declined to say how many U.S. forces will be deployed to Diyala, which the group al-Qaida in Iraq has made one its main staging grounds.

Military officials believe many insurgents have shifted from Baghdad to Diyala to escape the security operation.

“Car bombs have targeted hundreds of Iraqis,” Petraeus said. He also denounced the wave of other attacks, including the “thugs with no soul” who have killed more than 150 Shiite pilgrims in the past three days.

“We share the horror” of witnessing the suicide bombings and shootings against the pilgrims, he said.

Read it here.

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