Washington, Apr 11: Defending his decision to postpone withdrawal of US troops from Iraq after July, US President George W. Bush has said that the US disengagement from the Arab country would "strengthen" Al Qaeda in Pakistan.
He said that if the US troops were withdrawn, extremists would draw the same lesson as they did following US' retreat from Somalia and Vietnam. "The Taliban in Afghanistan and Al Qaeda in Pakistan would grow in confidence and boldness. And violent extremists around the world would draw the same dangerous lesson that they did from our retreats in Somalia and Vietnam," the Dawn quoted Bush as saying.
In a speech coinciding with the fifth anniversary of the "fall" of Baghdad, Bush said: "It is clear that we're on the right track.
Bush further said that US forces have made major gains since he ordered a build-up of about 30,000 US forces last year. "None of our operations in Iraq will be on hold. Instead we will use the months ahead to take advantage of the opportunities created by the surge and continue operations across the board. A major strategic shift had occurred since the build-up. Today we have the initiative."
Meanwhile, Senator Barack Obama, a leading Democratic candidate for the 2008 presidential election, criticized Bush's decision and sought an immediate end to the war. "This war should be coming to an end, but President Bush announced today that he was going to put a pause on the withdrawal. So we are going to have 140,000 troops - it's estimated that we will have at least 140,000 troops there until the end of the year. In other words, there is no end in sight under the Bush policy."