Bush says Iraq war about al-Qaeda

US President George W. Bush, trying to reverse ebbing support for the Iraq war, sought to tie deadly violence there directly to Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden.

Bush says Iraq war about al-Qaeda
Facing mounting calls for a US withdrawal, and intelligence findings that the unpopular war is a recruiting tool for Al-Qaeda, Bush warned that a hasty US pull-out would increase the risk of an attack in the United States.

"However difficult the fight is in Iraq, we must win it, and we can win it," Bush said in a speech to uniformed military personnel here. "Surrendering the future of Iraq to Al-Qaeda would be a disaster to our country."

Bush said that bin Laden, the mastermind of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, pulled the strings of Al-Qaeda in Iraq, a group that did not exist before the March 2003 US-led invasion.

"Some say that Iraq is not a part of the broader war on terror," he said. "They claim that the organization called al Qaeda in Iraq is an Iraqi phenomenon, that it's independent of Osama bin Laden and it's not interested in attacking America. That would be news to Osama bin Laden."

Bush did not mention a newly public US intelligence report that found that Al-Qaeda had been reinvigorated and was plotting new attacks from a safe haven in remote tribal areas of Pakistan.

The report, a National Intelligence Estimate grouping the consensus findings of the US spy agencies, also declared that Al-Qaeda in Iraq was the terrorist network's "most visible and capable affiliate and the only one known to have expressed a desire to attack the Homeland," meaning the United States.

A previous NIE found that the war in Iraq was an effective recruiting tool for extremists including Al-Qaeda.

And Democrats, the president's implicit targets, rejected his claims.

"The president is trying to scare the American people into believing that Al-Qaeda is the rationale for continuing the war in Iraq," said Democratic Senator and Bush's defeated 2004 election rival John Kerry.

"9/11 was not plotted in Iraq, 9/11 did not happen from an Al-Qaeda in Iraq," he said. "The fact is, Al-Qaeda has grown in its strength and its presence in Iraq because we are there."

The Pentagon, in its latest quarterly report to the US Congress, said last month that Al-Qaeda in Iraq was "the primary threat" in restive Anbar province but that they played a smaller role in the overall picture.

"The increasingly complex conflict has remained a struggle among and within ethno-sectarian, criminal, insurgent and terrorist groups to wrest political and economic power from the elected GoI (government of Iraq)," it said.

"Much of the violence is attributable to sectarian friction, and each faction is driven by its own political and economic power relationships," the US military said.


AFP

Güncelleme Tarihi: 25 Temmuz 2007, 09:40
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