22 July Los Angeles Times - U.S. Plans Shift in Iraq Strategy by Peter Spiegel.

President Bush is expected to announce a significant shift in strategy for improving Baghdad's security when the Iraqi prime minister visits Washington next week, an acknowledgment that a much-publicized military operation launched last month has failed to stem the violence.

The U.S.-Iraqi offensive was touted as a major initiative by the government of Prime Minister Nouri Maliki. But the operation has failed to prevent sectarian violence in Baghdad from escalating to unprecedented highs.

A United Nations study released this week found that 3,149 civilians were killed in Iraq in June an 18% increase from May and that most of the deaths occurred in Baghdad.

A senior administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity, as is routine when discussing future White House initiatives, said the new strategy that Bush and Maliki intended to hash out would include "shifts in resources" and "shifts in emphasis."

The change could include redeploying U.S. forces from elsewhere in the country to Baghdad...

Iraqi forces have taken over security responsibilities in several Baghdad neighborhoods in recent months.

Asked whether the shift in strategy could lead U.S. forces to reassume control of those areas, the official said, "That certainly would be an appropriate thing to discuss."

During a trip to Baghdad last week, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said the number of U.S. forces in the Iraqi capital had already increased from 40,000 to 55,000 in response to the surge in attacks. Any additional increase would make it difficult for the Bush administration to follow through on its goal of reducing the U.S. troop level in Iraq before the November congressional elections.

The new security policy for Baghdad probably will include an increased emphasis on rounding up local leaders who are instigating and provoking sectarian violence, such as members of the militia loyal to radical Shiite cleric Muqtada Sadr. He has been blamed for inspiring much of the anti-Sunni violence perpetrated by Shiite death squads.

The early stages of this strategy have been rolled out in recent days in both Baghdad and Basra, the southern port city where unrest also has increased, and U.S. officials say the move has shown promise...