Cease-fires aid force transition in Iraq

June 13, 2008 at 6:54 PM
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WASHINGTON, June 13 (UPI) -- U.S. military operations in Iraq are still needed, but the mission has shifted from fighting wars to keeping the peace, regional analysts said.

Stephen Biddle, senior fellow for defense policy at the Council on Foreign Relations, a U.S. think tank, told reporters in a conference call the U.S. military may be able to shift its strategy in Iraq in part because of cease-fire agreements with the various militias in Iraq.

"The U.S. mission has started to shift from counterinsurgency, as we traditionally understand it, into increasingly something that looks like peacekeeping rather than war fighting," Middle East Online quoted Biddle as saying.

Biddle said this trend was likely to continue for the foreseeable future unless the deals surrounding the truces fall through.

Vali Nasr, an expert on Shiite Islam and an adjunct senior fellow with the council, said success for the U.S. mission in Iraq now has more to do with reconstruction and nation-building than all-out war.

"It's very important to note that the United States is sort of in the middle of this and the gains in Iraq have by no means made it easier to find a way for the U.S. to extricate itself from Iraq," he said.

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