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Iraq Transition

Sources: Bush's Iraq plan calls for more troops, money

Story Highlights

• NEW: President Bush is set to unveil new Iraq strategy at 9 p.m. ET Wednesday
• Sources say Bush's plan will increase U.S. troops by at least 20,000
• Troops could be sent all at once or phased in, sources say
• Other recommendations would include a jobs program, reconstruction projects
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush's new plan for Iraq will call for increasing the number of U.S. troops in Baghdad -- and perhaps other areas -- by at least 20,000, sources said.

The question within the Bush administration has been whether to send all the troops in right away as a "big bang" force, or to phase them in from month to month, contingent on whether the Iraqi leadership meets certain political and military goals, sources said.

"The whole struggle ... is: What is [Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki] going to do about [Muqtada al-Sadr]?" one source said, referring to the radical Shiite cleric whose militia is suspected behind much of the sectarian violence. (Watch the battle brewing over a possible troop increase Video)

The phased-in approach "seems to be winning the day," the sources said.

"It also allows the Pentagon to get its people ready to go," one said.

Sources familiar with Bush's deliberations said White House speechwriters worked "around the clock" over the weekend to prepare the address for the plan's critical unveiling.

Over the next few days, the president will review and rework the speech, scheduled to be delivered at 9 p.m. ET Wednesday.

But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, said Sunday an increase in troops "is contrary to ... the will of the American people -- they have spoken on this subject," referring to the Democratic victory in congressional elections, "but even the advice of [the president's] own generals."

Pelosi told CBS' "Face the Nation" that Bush isn't "listening to the generals ... and he's not listening to the American people."

She pointed to Gen. John Abizaid's Senate testimony last month that in his talks with Lt. Gen. Martin Dempsey and Gen. George Casey, "they believe that adding more troops will not improve the situation there."

And she cautioned that if Bush calls for additional U.S. troops, he will have to show the Democratic-controlled Congress why more money should be poured into the war. (Full story)

'New Way Forward'

The plan had been dubbed "A New Way Forward" as of last week.

Aspects of it have been widely agreed upon, although the plan's not final, said three sources familiar with deliberations.

CNN reported last month that Bush was considering sending in as many as 30,000 to 40,000 troops to escalate the war, increasing troop levels to their highest point in the nearly four-year-old conflict. That would mean there could be as many as 165,000 troops in Iraq.

Other reports indicated the U.S. troop increase would be closer to 20,000, with additional Iraqi forces making up the remainder of the "surge."

Sources said the White House was working to include some elements favored by Democrats and the Iraq Study Group, the bipartisan plan presented to Congress and Bush last month.

The elements include expanded training of Iraqi forces, redeployment of some U.S. troops outside of Iraq -- in places such as Kuwait -- and beefing up reconstruction projects.

They said Bush will talk about his faith in al-Maliki to confront the sectarian violence between the Sunni insurgency and Shiite militias.

New Deal-style jobs program planned

The sources said the plan will include a new jobs program -- what one source called a "make-work program similar to the New Deal." It is expected to cost at least $1 billion. The program would be in addition to pursuing other reconstruction projects with unused funds.

"There's also a lot in the pipeline, money on reconstruction that hasn't been used. People would build a water tower, or electric plant, get shot at and leave," a source said.

The thinking is that "the administration is trying to bridge a gap, to get the Iraqis to survive, to help those caught in the middle. Give them a job and the chance to make a few bucks," one source said

The plan will expand a program that provides jobs for Iraqis.

The U.S. State Department will beef up its "provincial reconstruction teams" -- agency officials who coordinate local reconstruction with Iraqi companies.

"The economy is dysfunctional because of lack of security," a source said.

Iran, Syria to be discussed

Sources said the president will tell the nation in his address why he believes it is not a good idea to engage Iran or Syria directly in talks regarding Iraq. The Iraq Study Group included U.S. talks with Iran and Syria among its key recommendations.

Sources said Bush also will call for a renewed effort to bring about peace between the Israelis and Palestinians.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is scheduled to leave Friday for an extensive trip through the Middle East and Europe to sell the president's plan, sources said. Her stops will include Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Germany, England and Saudi Arabia.

More selling may be needed closer to home.

"Twenty thousand troops is not enough to deal with the problem," Sen. Joe Biden, D-Delaware, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said Sunday. "We're going to have American forces going door-to-door in neighborhoods in Baghdad, a town of 6 million people."

The president's fellow Republicans expressed reservations as well.

"I want to know how this surge will occur," Senate Minority Whip Trent Lott, R-Mississippi, said Sunday. "What will be the numbers? What will they do? What do they hope to achieve?"

CNN's Suzanne Malveaux contributed to this report.

President Bush is scheduled to deliver an address to the nation on his new Iraq strategy at 9 p.m. ET Wednesday.


• Interactive: Who's who in Iraq
• Interactive: Sectarian divide


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