Vol. 5 Num 1046 Sat. May 12, 2007  

Baghdad to push for US support

Worried Congress' support for Iraq is deteriorating rapidly, Baghdad dispatched senior officials to Capitol Hill this week to warn members one-on-one that pulling out US troops would have disastrous consequences.

The lobbying push targeted Republicans and Democrats alike, but focused primarily on those considered influential on the war debate. On Thursday, hours before the House voted to limit funds for the war, Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Barham Saleh met with more than 30 House Republicans and more than a half-dozen senators, including Sens Harry Reid, D-Nevada, John Warner, R-Virginia, and Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-New York.

"He understands that American patience is waning," said Sen. Norm Coleman, after eating lunch with Saleh, Iraqi Ambassador Samir Shakir al-Sumaidaie and Sen Saxby Chambliss.

Baghdad's ability to sell members like Coleman, R-Minnesota, and Chambliss, R-Georgia, on the war effort is critical if the Iraqi government wants US troops to stay. Coleman in recent months has become deeply sceptical of the president's decision to send additional troops to Iraq and says patience on the war in general is limited.

Coleman, Chambliss and Sen John Sununu, R-New Hampshire, who met separately with Saleh, will be up for re-election next year facing voters who have grown tired of a war in its fifth year and that has killed more than 3,380 troops. While Republicans have been reluctant to intervene, many say President Bush has until September to tell if the troop buildup in Iraq is working before they demand another approach.