By Gareth Porter
"WASHINGTON - US President George W Bush's State of the Union address appears to confirm other indications in recent weeks that he is not merely sending more troops to Iraq to do more of the same, but has adopted a new strategy of fighting all three major Iraqi Arab political-military forces simultaneously.
Bush hinted strongly that he has decided to make Muqtada al-Sadr's Mehdi Army a major military target of the increased US troop presence in Baghdad, while continuing to wage war against both al-Qaeda and its Sunni extremist allies, on one hand, and the non-jihadi Sunni resistance, on the other.
Two weeks before the January 23 State of the Union speech, Lieutenant-General Raymond Odierno, the No 2 US commander in Iraq, told reporters he wanted to use most of the additional 21,500 troops to launch a new military push against both Sunni and Shi'ite militias in Baghdad.
The new policy appears to have been prompted by both the need to demonstrate to the US public that the administration is doing something different and to use force against a presumed ally of Iran in the region. But it means that the United States is now planning to fight what is in essence a three-front war without any reliable Iraqi Arab ally. Only the Kurds can be counted on to cooperate with the US military in such a war, because of their reliance on US support for their aspirations for quasi-independence......."