"Operation Iraqi Freedom overthrew Saddam Hussein's regime, but much of Iraq became violent because of Sunni Arab resentment and a related insurgency, compounded by Sunni-Shiite sectarian violence, violent competition among Shiite groups as well, and the failure of Iraq's government to equitably deliver services. Compounding the internal violence has been growing tension on Iraq's northern border with Turkey, and Iranian assistance to armed Shiite groups operating in southern Iraq and in Baghdad. Mounting U.S. casualties and financial costs -- without clear movement toward national political reconciliation among Iraq's major communities -- have intensified a debate within the United States over whether to reduce U.S. involvement without completely accomplishing initial U.S. goals. In late 2007, the Administration is claiming relative success in reversing the deterioration in security in 2006, attributing the gains to the strategy announced by President Bush on January 10, 2007 ('New Way Forward'). The centerpiece of the strategy was the deployment of an additional 28,500 U.S. forces ('troop surge') to help stabilize Baghdad and to take advantage of growing tribal support for U.S. policy in Anbar Province. However, critics say that the strategy was primarily intended to promote Iraqi government action on a series of key reconciliation initiatives that are viewed as 'benchmarks' of political progress."
CRS Report for Congress, RL31339
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