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TUESDAY, OCTOBER 24, 2006
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EDITORIAL

U.S. has lost hearts, minds of young people in Iraq

Most Iraqi youths in Arab regions of the country believe security would improve and violence would decrease if the U.S.-led forces left immediately, a State Department poll has discovered.

The poll also revealed that overwhelming numbers of young Iraqi Arabs — nine out of 10 — see the U.S. and allied forces as an occupying army. Only young Iraqi Kurds still see the multinational troops as a liberating force.

Most young Arab Iraqis said they were more likely to support local militias than to join the Iraqi army or police forces.

The results and the ever-increasing hostility in Iraq show it is past time for allied forces to withdraw and allow the Iraqi factions to settle their disputes.

The White House has said it will not withdraw troops until Iraqi security forces are able to contain the violence. And yet, most Iraqi young people say that the presence of those troops spawns the violence rather than quells it.

Perhaps President Bush should reconsider his view of troop withdrawal. Instead of seeing it as "abandoning the Iraqi people," and characterizing it as "cut and run," Mr. Bush should listen to the people he purports to defend. They want us out for their own good.

Recent developments indicate the Kurds, Sunnis and Shiites are on the verge of dividing the nation into three semi-autonomous regions under a federal government.

If multinational forces withdraw now, Iraqis can turn their attention from attacking the occupying forces and focus their energy on finding a political solution.

And if that happens, the U.S. will be able to declare victory in Iraq.

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