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Obama Offers Plan to Stop Escalation of Iraq War, Begin Phased Redeployment of Troops

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Location: Washington, DC


Obama Offers Plan to Stop Escalation of Iraq War, Begin Phased Redeployment of Troops

U.S. Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) today introduced binding and comprehensive legislation that not only reverses the President's dangerous and ill-conceived escalation of the Iraq war, but also sets a new course for U.S. policy that can bring a responsible end to the war and bring our troops home.

"Our troops have performed brilliantly in Iraq, but no amount of American soldiers can solve the political differences at the heart of somebody else's civil war," Obama said. "That's why I have introduced a plan to not only stop the escalation of this war, but begin a phased redeployment that can pressure the Iraqis to finally reach a political settlement and reduce the violence."

The Obama plan offers a responsible yet effective alternative to the President's failed policy of escalation. Realizing there can be no military solution in Iraq, it focuses instead on reaching a political solution in Iraq, protecting our interests in the region, and bringing this war to a responsible end. The legislation commences redeployment of U.S. forces no later than May 1, 2007 with the goal of removing all combat brigades from Iraq by March 31, 2008, a date that is consistent with the expectation of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group.

The plan allows for a limited number of U.S. troops to remain as basic force protection, to engage in counter-terrorism, and to continue the training of Iraqi security forces. If the Iraqis are successful in meeting the thirteen benchmarks for progress laid out by the Bush Administration, this plan also allows for the temporary suspension of the redeployment, provided Congress agrees that the benchmarks have been met and that the suspension is in the national security interest of the United States.

"The American people have been asked to be patient too many times, too many lives have been lost and too many billions have been spent," Obama said. "It's time for a policy that can bring a responsible end to this war and bring our troops home."

Fact Sheet: The Iraq War De-escalation Act of 2007

Today, Senator Obama introduced the Iraq War De-escalation Act of 2007. The Iraq War De-escalation Act of 2007 is binding and comprehensive legislation that not only reverses the President's dangerous and ill-conceived escalation, but also sets a new course for U.S. policy in Iraq that can bring a responsible end to the war and bring our troops home. It implements - with the force of law - a phased redeployment of U.S. forces that remains our best leverage to pressure the Iraqi government to achieve the political solution necessary to promote stability. It also places conditions on future economic aid to the government of Iraq and calls for the United States to lead a broad and sustained diplomatic initiative within the region. This plan is based on Senator Obama's November 20th, 2006 speech before the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, and it implements key recommendations of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group.

The Obama plan offers a responsible yet effective alternative to the President's failed policy of escalation. Realizing there can be no military solution in Iraq, it focuses instead on reaching a political solution in Iraq, protecting our interests in the region, and bringing this war to a responsible end. The legislation commences redeployment of U.S. forces no later than May 1, 2007 with the goal of removing all combat brigades from Iraq by March 31, 2008, a date that is consistent with the expectation of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group. The plan allows for a limited number of U.S. troops to remain as basic force protection, to engage in counter-terrorism, and to continue the training of Iraqi security forces. If the Iraqis are successful in meeting the thirteen benchmarks for progress laid out by the Bush Administration, this plan also allows for the temporary suspension of the redeployment, provided Congress agrees that the benchmarks have been met and that the suspension is in the national security interest of the United States.

In short, the Obama plan halts the escalation and requires a responsible, phased redeployment of American forces from Iraq in a manner that protects U.S. troops and exerts leverage to achieve the political settlement among the Iraqis.

Key Elements of Obama Plan

* Stops the Escalation: Caps the number of U.S. troops in Iraq at the number in Iraq on January 10, 2007. This does not affect the funding for our troops in Iraq. This cap has the force of law and could not be lifted without explicit Congressional authorization.

* De-escalates the War with Phased Redeployment: Commences a phased redeployment of U.S. troops out of Iraq not later than May 1, 2007, with the goal that all combat brigades redeploy from Iraq by March 31, 2008, a date consistent with the expectation of the Iraq Study Group. This redeployment will be both substantial and gradual, and will be planned and implemented by military commanders. Makes clear that Congress believes troops should be redeployed to the United States; to Afghanistan; and to other points in the region. A residual U.S. presence may remain in Iraq for force protection, training of Iraqi security forces, and pursuit of international terrorists.

* Enforces Tough Benchmarks for Progress: These 13 benchmarks are based on President Bush's own statements and Administration documents and include:
o Security: Significant progress toward fulfilling security commitments, including eliminating restrictions on U.S. forces, reducing sectarian violence, reducing the size and influence of the militias, and strengthening the Iraqi Army and Police.

o Political Accommodation: Significant progress toward reaching a political solution, including equitable sharing of oil revenues, revision of de-Baathification, provincial elections, even-handed provision of government services, and a fair process for a constitutional amendment to achieve national reconciliation.

o Economic Progress: Requires Iraq to fulfill its commitment to spend not less than $10 billion for reconstruction, job creation, and economic development without regard for the ethnic or sectarian make-up of Iraqi regions.

Should these benchmarks be met, the plan allows for the temporary suspension of this redeployment, subject to the agreement of Congress.

* Congressional oversight: Requires the President to submit reports to Congress every 90 days describing and assessing the Iraqi government's progress in meeting benchmarks and the redeployment goals.

* Intensified Training: Intensifies training of Iraqi security forces to enable the country to take over security responsibility of the country.

* Conditions on Economic Assistance: Conditions future economic assistance to the Government of Iraq on significant progress toward achievement of benchmarks. Allows exceptions for humanitarian, security, and job-creation assistance.

* Regional Diplomacy: Launches a comprehensive regional and international diplomatic initiative - that includes key nations in the region - to help achieve a political settlement among the Iraqi people, end the civil war in Iraq, and prevent a humanitarian catastrophe and regional conflict. Recommends the President should appoint a Special Envoy for Iraq to carry out this diplomacy within 60 days. Mandates that the President submit a plan to prevent the war in Iraq from becoming a wider regional conflict.

http://obama.senate.gov/press/070130-obama_offers_plan_to_stop_escalation_of_iraq_war_begin_phased_redeployment_of_troops/index.html

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