Coleman says he now supports some troop withdrawal this year
After resisting the idea of a planned drawdown of U.S. troops in Iraq, Sen. Norm Coleman is now ready to support at least some troop withdrawal. Coleman, fresh off a weekend trip to Iraq, said he now believes Sen. John Warner, R-Va., is right to ...
After resisting the idea of a planned drawdown of U.S. troops in Iraq, Sen. Norm Coleman is now ready to support at least some troop withdrawal.
Coleman, fresh off a weekend trip to Iraq, said he now believes Sen. John Warner, R-Va., is right to suggest withdrawing 5,000 U.S. troops from that country by the end of the year.
"A message has to be sent loud and clear that this isn't a blank check," Coleman said Tuesday in a conference call with Minnesota reporters.
The troop withdrawal would be a signal to the Iraqi government that it needs to work harder at preparing its own forces to handle the country's security, he said.
"I also think we need a diplomatic surge in Iraq," Coleman said. Countries in the region and U.S. allies need to send diplomats and open embassies in the country, he added.
Coleman said he was impressed with the progress made in some areas through U.S. military efforts.
When he visited in December, members of Congress were not allowed to enter Ramadi because of security risks, Coleman said.
On Sunday, he visited Ramadi where he met with the mayor and stood with him in front of the new government center, without wearing body armor. They talked about employment programs, Coleman said.
U.S. troops in Anbar province have forced al-Qaida out of the cities by working with local residents, Coleman said. "I think it's safe to say al-Qaida is on the run."
There has been progress in lowering the level of violence in Baghdad, but it's not the same success found in Anbar province, he said.
Coleman said he thinks it will be necessary to withdraw more troops next year, because "our people are tired."
U.S. troops will be in Iraq for a long time, but he believes that they will not be in the middle of a civil war, Coleman said.
Conflicts in Iraq have shifted from a civil war to a political power struggle. "Not all Sunnis are fighting all Shia anymore," he said.
More people on both sides of the sectarian battles are beginning to try to work together to build a future for the country, but the country needs more consistent effort on the part of its political leaders to build on that, Coleman said.