BAGHDAD, Iraq — Iraqi politicians on both sides of the sectarian divide said Wednesday they heard no new ideas and had little reason for renewed hope from President Bush’s State of the Union address.
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During Tuesday’s speech, Bush urged critics to give his plan to increase American troops in Iraq a chance, and said a political solution is also needed to quell the violence.
“Bush has not come up with anything new and it gives no real hope for ordinary Iraqis,” said Sunni lawmaker Hussein al-Falluji. “Bush said that sending more troops might solve the security problem, but I think it will not curb the violence for a long time because the problem is not only military, it is more political and about foreign interference.”
However, al-Falluji welcomed Bush’s warning the sectarian violence engulfing Iraq could lead to a wider regional conflict, as Shiite extremists are backed by Iran and Sunni extremists are aided by al-Qaida.
Bush’s talk about Iran’s influence in the Iraq insurgency “means that he is now closer to understanding the origin of the problem,” al-Falluji said.
Tehran accused of stoking violence
The U.S. administration accuses the Shiite theocracy in Tehran of helping stoke the violence in predominantly Shiite Iraq. Sunnis, who were dominant under Saddam Hussein but lost power after his ouster and have led the insurgency, have also made that accusation.
A lawmaker with radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr’s bloc also urged a political solution.
“Bush’s speech still contained the logic of force and destruction instead of the logic of dialogue and political solutions,” said lawmaker Falah Hassan. “I believe that the U.S. administration should adopt the speech of peace instead of the speech of soldiers.”
The extra U.S. troops are being sent to aide the Iraqis as Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has promised to crack down equally on Sunni insurgents and Shiite militias such as the Mahdi Army that is loyal to al-Sadr and has been blamed for much of the sectarian violence in Baghdad.
“The U.S. Army should not take advantage of the new security plan in order to settle old scores with some Iraqi political groups,” said Hassan, whose bloc has called for the withdrawal of U.S. forces.
Hassan said that a solution to the violence must be found within Iraq.
“Only the Iraqi people and Iraqi political groups can offer the best way to have a stable Iraq through dialogue,” he said. “We do not want more foreign interference in Iraq’ affairs.”
Bush implored a skeptical Congress in his speech to embrace his unpopular plan to send more U.S. troops to Iraq, saying it represents the best hope in a war America must not lose. His speech was aired live at 5 a.m. local time on Iraqi state television and Arab satellite channels.
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