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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Iraq Resists Bush's New War Plan

BAGHDAD -- Just days after U.S. President George W. Bush unveiled a new war plan calling for more than 20,000 additional U.S. troops in Iraq, the heart of the effort -- a major push to secure the capital -- faces some of its fiercest resistance from the very people it depends on for success: Iraqi government officials.

U.S. military officials have spent days huddled in meetings with Iraqi officers in a race to turn blueprints drawn up in Washington into a plan that will work on the ground in Baghdad. With the first American and Iraqi units dedicated to the plan due to be in place within weeks, time is short for setting details of what U.S. officers view as the decisive battle of the war.

But the signs so far have unnerved some U.S. officials working on the plan, who have described a web of problems -- ranging from a contested chain of command to how to protect U.S. troops deployed in some of Baghdad's most dangerous districts -- that some fear could hobble the effort before it begins.

First among the American concerns is a Shiite-led government that has been so dogmatic in its attitude that the United States is worried it could be frustrated in its aim of cracking down equally on Shiite and Sunni extremists, a strategy Bush has declared central to the plan.

"We are implementing a strategy to embolden a government that is actually part of the problem," said an American military official in Baghdad involved in talks over the plan. "We are being played like a pawn."

The U.S. military's misgivings came as new details emerged of the reconstruction portion of Bush's plan, which calls for more than doubling the number of American-led reconstruction teams in Iraq to 22 and quintupling the number of American civilian reconstruction specialists to 500.

Compounding U.S. doubts about the government's willingness to go after Shiite extremists has been a behind-the-scenes struggle over the appointment of the Iraqi officer to fill the key post of operational commander for the Baghdad operation.

In face of strong skepticism from the United States, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has selected an officer from the Shiite heartland of southern Iraq who was virtually unknown to the United States, and whose hard-edged demands for Iraqi primacy in the effort has deepened U.S. anxieties.

Iraqi commander Lietuenant General Aboud Qanbar will be part of what the Americans have described as a partnership between the two armies, with an American general, Major General Joseph Fil Jr., commander of the First Cavalry Division, working with General Aboud, and U.S. and Iraqi officers twinned down the operational chain.