(by Susan Jones, CNSNews.com) – Success in Iraq is possible — and more than Iraq is at stake if the United States withdraws its troops too soon, a U.S. diplomat said on Tuesday at a press conference in Baghdad.

“The broader Middle East is the source of most of the world’s security problems,” said Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq. “The struggle for the future of the region is between moderate and extremist political forces. The outcome in Iraq will profoundly shape this wider struggle and in turn, the security of the world.”

The extremists, including Al Qaeda, Iran and Syria, fear Iraq’s success and want to undermine U.S. resolve. They have everything to gain by prolonging the conflict, killing people, and “creating the perception that Iraq cannot be stabilized,” Khalilzad said.

He called the war “the defining challenge of our era.”

America’s enemies believe that their will is stronger than ours and that they can win by outlasting us, Khalilzad said. And he said the violence that Americans see headlined on TV and in newspapers are the work of those enemies.

Khalilzad accused Iran and Syria of supporting the groups involved in Iraq’s growing sectarian strife.

“As we look ahead, the question for the United States is whether we will acquiesce to or defeat the efforts of the enemies of Iraq.” The U.S. should “make adjustment in out strategy and redouble our efforts to succeed,” he said.

Khalilzad said the U.S. strategy to reduce the sectarian violence in Iraq includes “three key elements.” They include persuading Iraq’s political and religious leaders to agree to press their followers to stop the sectarian violence; helping Iraqi leaders reach agreement on the issues that continue to divide them; and getting Arab states to encourage the various factions in Iraq to end the violence and work for a united, independent Iraq.

Gen. George Casey, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, said a timeline for troop withdrawal depends on conditions on the ground.

At the end of June and the end of July, he said, it became apparent that Iraqi security forces weren’t able to give the new government “breathing room,” and that’s when U.S. troops once again stepped in.

“I still very strongly believe that we need to continue to reduce our forces as the Iraqis continue to improve,” Casey said. He added that the Iraqis “are getting better…and they want to take the reins,” but he couldn’t say exactly when that might happen.

Reprinted here with permission from Cybercast News Service. Visit the website at CNSNews.com.


1.  Who is Zalmay Khalilzad?

2.  Mr. Khalilzad says that success in Iraq is possible.  Why does he believe it is imperative?

3.  a) How are our enemies trying to undermine our resolve, according to Mr. Khalilzad?
b) What does Mr. Khalilzad say that America’s enemies believe about us? 

4.  What role do Iran and Syria play in Iraq?

5.  List the three key elements of U.S. strategy to reduce the sectarian violence in Iraq as described by Mr. Khalilzad.

6.  What is your reaction to Mr. Khalilzad’s remarks about Iraq?  Be specific.


For background and statistics on Iraq, go to the CIA World FactBook. 

The U.S. State Department’s website lists all U.S. ambassadors, including biographies. Go to the website here to read Mr. Khalilzad’s biography.

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