“Some of the debate in Washington is in fact indicative of the concerns that some of the American people have for the prospects of success if the Iraqi government doesn’t do what it has said it will do,” Rice said.

Rice asserted that the coordinated U.S.-Iraq sweep against militant factions is bringing “a new hope and a new optimism” to Baghdad. She said she hopes the crackdown in a capital weary of violence will provide an incentive for political progress…

In meetings with Iraq’s fragile and often divided U.S.-backed government, Rice stressed the need for political and economic progress alongside security gains. Rice said she hopes the security sweep “may have now a little bit of a spur to some other things as well.”

The U.S. has urged the government to move more quickly on benchmarks such as a national law governing the distribution of oil wealth. Iraqi leaders informed her that the oil deal was almost done, but Rice later told reporters she has heard that before. The secretary said she made clear to Iraqi officials that she hopes this time it is for real.

“The oil law is a proxy for something much larger,” Rice said. “It’s really important that they complete it, but it’s also important that they have made progress.”


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