DEVELOPMENTS War on terrorism

New poll: As President Bush prepares to address the nation on Iraq tonight, a new Washington Post-ABC News poll finds most Americans do not believe the administration's claims that impressive gains are being made against the insurgency, but a clear majority is willing to keep U.S. forces there for an extended time to stabilize the country. The survey found that only one in eight Americans currently favor an immediate pullout of U.S. forces, while a solid majority continues to agree with Bush that the United States must remain in Iraq until civil order is restored -- a goal that most of those surveyed acknowledge is, at best, several years away. Amid broad skepticism about Bush's credibility and whether the war was worth the cost, there were some encouraging signs for the president. A narrow majority -- 52 percent -- currently believe the war has contributed to the long-term security of the United States, a five-point increase from earlier this month.
Aziz denial: Former Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz denied any role in the bloody quelling of a 1991 Shiite uprising and said Saddam Hussein made decisions on his own, according to a video released Monday by an Iraqi tribunal. It was the fifth tape release by the Iraqi Special Tribunal this month, and the first to include audible dialogue from a defendant. A tired-looking Aziz could be heard replying to an investigating magistrate's questions.
Bringing security: Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari said Monday that two years would be "more than enough" to establish security in his country, a task Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld believes may take up to 12 years. After talks with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, al-Jaafari said factors such as building up Iraq's own security forces, controlling the country's porous borders and pushing ahead with the political process would all play a part in ending the violence. "I think two years will be enough, and more than enough, to establish security in our country," he told reporters. Asked about al-Jaafari's comments Monday, Rumsfeld told a Pentagon news conference that "I recognize things I don't know, and that's one of them. ... There are so many variables that I would be reluctant to pretend that I could look into that crystal ball and say, 'X number of months or X number of years.' I can't."
Crossing borders: The militants crossing into Iraq from Syria are not backed by the Syrian government, Iraq's former interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi said Monday. Allawi, who headed the Iraqi government from June 2004 until April, came to Cairo to raise support for his plan to hold a pan-Iraqi conference to end the insurgency. "The answer to the tension in Iraq cannot be through a military solution or by force alone," Allawi said after talks with President Hosni Mubarak. Last week, the United States and Iraq reiterated that Syria was not doing enough to stop foreign fighters from entering Iraq. The Syrian government rejected the allegations, arguing it is impossible to seal its 360-mile border with Iraq.
Source: Combined dispatches

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