Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

MEDIAWATCH

No strategy and a beige suit

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 29 August 2014 (part 2)

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 29 August 2014

Read more

ENCORE!

Alain Choquette: A Hilarious Magician in Paris

Read more

FOCUS

France welcomes Iraqi Christian refugees

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

Emmanuel Macron: A new economy minister with a pro-business agenda

Read more

THE OBSERVERS

More of this year's best Observers stories

Read more

#TECH 24

Changing the world, one video game at a time

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Socialist Party summer conference kicks off in explosive atmosphere

Read more

  • EU leaders choose Tusk and Mogherini for top jobs, discuss Russia sanctions

    Read more

  • Dozens of UN peacekeepers still held by Syrian jihadists

    Read more

  • Opposition protesters clash with Pakistani police outside PM's house

    Read more

  • Austerity row overshadows French Socialist’s annual rally

    Read more

  • Egypt sentences Brotherhood leader Badie to life

    Read more

  • Ceasfire allows Gaza families to relax on the beach

    Read more

  • S. Africa condemns 'military coup' in Lesotho

    Read more

  • Kerry calls for 'coalition of nations' to battle IS militants

    Read more

  • Ukrainian plane with seven on board crashes in Algeria

    Read more

  • Exclusive: Fabius warns Russia of more sanctions

    Read more

  • IMF backs Lagarde amid French corruption probe

    Read more

  • Ebola drug ‘ZMapp’ heals all monkeys in study

    Read more

  • British killer escapes from French psychiatric hospital

    Read more

  • Police hunt for British boy with brain tumour taken to France

    Read more

  • Ukraine to relaunch NATO membership bid

    Read more

  • Suriname leader’s son pleads guilty to courting Hezbollah

    Read more

  • Mapping Ukraine: Canada and Russia in ‘tweet for tat’ row

    Read more

Cheney on surprise visit to Iraq

Latest update : 2008-03-17

As the 5th anniversary of the Iraq war looms, US Vice President Dick Cheney made a surprise visit to Baghdad on Monday as part of a nine-day tour of the Middle East. Republican presidential candidate John McCain is also visiting the region.

U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney, an architect of the U.S-led invasion of Iraq, made an unannounced visit to Baghdad on Monday to assess the success of a troop build-up five years after the war began.
 

Cheney arrived as Republican candidate John McCain, who will be the Republican choice in November's presidential election, was meeting Iraqi leaders as part of a Senate Armed Services Committee fact-finding mission.
 

Like McCain, Cheney is in Iraq as part of a wider tour to the Middle East. Cheney will also visit Saudi Arabia, Jerusalem, the Palestinian territories, Turkey and Oman on a nine-day tour.
 

Both men have been staunch supporters of a U.S. troop build-up that helped drag Iraq back from the brink of all-out sectarian civil war between majority Shi'ites and minority Sunni Muslims who were dominant under Saddam Hussein.
 

Cheney was met on his arrival in Baghdad by General David Petraeus, the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq.
 

After talks with Petraeus and U.S. ambassador Ryan Crocker he was due to meet Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, President Jalal Talabani and other Iraqi leaders to discuss security and political issues, a senior administration official said.
 

Cheney last visited Baghdad in May 2007, a month before the deployment of an extra 30,000 troops was completed.
 

Attacks across Iraq have fallen by 60 percent since last June, when the troop build-up was completed as part of a broader counter-insurgency strategy that included taking troops out of large bases and putting them in smaller combat outposts.
 

A senior U.S. administration official said before Cheney's trip that Middle East leaders would be interested in seeing how he compares the conclusions from his trip a year ago with his assessment now that the troop build-up has been completed.
 

"There's still a lot to be done, but I think he's going to be able to say we're on the right track," the official said.
 

"I don't think he'll be shy about saying progress is being made and, for everybody who can do more, now is the time to do more," the official said on condition of anonymity.
 


 
Spike in violence
 

Despite the overall fall in violence, there has been a spike in violence since January after a series of large-scale bombings blamed by the U.S. military on Sunni Islamist al Qaeda, which U.S. commanders say is the biggest threat to peace in Iraq.
 

The U.S. military says that the uptick in violence in the past three months does not represent a trend.
 

The growth of neighbourhood security units set up by mainly Sunni Arab tribal leaders and a ceasefire ordered by anti-U.S. Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr for his Mehdi Army militia have also been credited with bringing down violence.
 

U.S. troop withdrawals, a key subject in the U.S. presidential election campaign, have been tied to the success of the troop build-up. A drawdown to about 140,000 troops from 160,000 is due to be completed in July.
 

U.S. President George W. Bush will receive a new assessment soon from Petraeus and Crocker that he will consider in deciding whether any changes are needed to U.S. strategy.
 

Both Democratic presidential candidates, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, have vowed to start bringing troops home in 2009 if elected but Cheney has warned critics that a premature U.S. withdrawal would spark chaos and further bloodshed in Iraq.
 

Among political issues Cheney will discuss with Iraq's leaders are a stalled hydrocarbon law, one of Washington's so-called reconciliation benchmarks meant to draw Shi'ites and Sunnis together.
 

The law will share revenues from Iraq's vast oil reserves, the world's third-largest, but remains deadlocked among political infighting.
 

Washington has been urging Maliki's Shi'ite-led government to take advantage of security gains to make political progress.

Date created : 2008-03-17

COMMENT(S)