Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Credits Bush’s Military Surge Strategy for Ongoing Progress

By Penny Starr | June 10, 2009 | 4:42 PM EDT

Rafi Al-Issawi, Iraq's deputy prime minister, said that the Bush administration's surge in Iraq made his country more secure during remarks made at the United States Institute of Peace in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday. ( Starr)

( – The deputy prime minister of Iraq on Wednesday credited the 2007 troop surge, ordered by then-President George W. Bush, with improving security in his country.
“Regarding the surge, I think, yes, the surge was positively affecting the culture of security and was an excellent step controlling the security and changed a lot in the situation there in Iraq,” Rafi Al-Issawi told when asked about the surge following his remarks at the United States Institute of Peace in Washington, D.C.
Bush unveiled his "new way forward” in a televised speech on Jan. 10, 2007. “It is clear that we need to change our strategy in Iraq,” Bush said. “So my national security team, military commanders, and diplomats conducted a comprehensive review.”
Bush said winning the war in Iraq was vital to winning the war against terrorism.
“The consequences of failure are clear: Radical Islamic extremists would grow in strength and gain new recruits,” Bush said in the speech. “They would be in a better position to topple moderate governments, create chaos in the region, and use oil revenues to fund their ambitions.
“On September the 11th, 2001, we saw what a refuge for extremists on the other side of the world could bring to the streets of our own cities,” Bush said. “For the safety of our people, America must succeed in Iraq.”
Al-Issawi said the purpose of his trip to the United States was to address the transition in Iraq, which is taking place as U.S. troops withdraw in compliance with the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) approved by the Iraqi government in November 2008.
The agreement calls for all U.S. troops to leave Iraq no later than Dec. 31, 2008.
President Barack Obama has implied that the agreement upholds his campaign promise to end the war in Iraq and send more U.S. troops to Afghanistan.
“Through this period of transition, we will carry out further redeployments,” Obama said at a speech to troops at Camp Lejeune, N.C., on Feb. 27, 2009. “And under the Status of Forces Agreement with the Iraqi government, I intend to remove all U.S. troops from Iraq by the end of 2011.”
Aside from deploying more troops to Iraq, Bush's 20,000-troop surge also included a new strategy of putting troops in neighborhoods to help the local people root out terrorists and insurgents who had infiltrated communities.
“Our troops will have a well-defined mission: to help Iraqis clear and secure neighborhoods, to help them protect the local population, and to help ensure that the Iraqi forces left behind are capable of providing the security that Baghdad needs,” Bush said in his January 2007 speech.
Al-Issawi said Iraqis want a nation that is ruled by “consensus” and that people in Iraq are now free to decide on what the consensus will be. A national election in Iraq is planned for December.