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3 May 2007

Pressure mounts for troops withdrawal

REFLECTING THE over-whelming public mood in the US to end involvement in Iraq, the Democrat-controlled Congress delivered a rebuke to president George Bush.

Last week, both the House of Representatives and the Senate voted through a Bill which timetables a withdrawal of US troops and establishes new 'benchmarks' to assess the progress of the Iraq government.

To date over 3,200 US troops have been killed in the Iraq war and occupation, which has also cost Americans over $400 billion. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have been killed since March 2003 and the country has descended into violent sectarian civil war, with over two million people forced to flee their homes.

But Bush remains unmoved and has announced his intention to veto the Bill. He accuses the Democrats of "withholding money for our troops" and "handing al-Qa'ida a victory".

However, the $124 billion Bill actually provides more money for the Pentagon than Bush had sought!

Meanwhile, the US-organised reconstruction of Iraq continues to be a costly, monumental failure. Billions of dollars have simply disappeared - siphoned off by contractors and officials, while ordinary Iraqis continue to suffer unemployment, poverty and a crumbling infrastructure.

According to the World Health Organisation, 80% of Iraqis lack access to sanitation, 70% lack regular access to clean water and 60% lack access to the public food distribution system.

As a result of these failings, diarrhoea and respiratory infections now account for two-thirds of the deaths of under fives.

US inspectors have revealed that of eight reconstruction projects declared to be a success just six months ago, seven are no longer functioning properly. These projects include a maternity hospital and a newly built water purification system.

Dave Carr