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Security Politics

A new USA Today/Gallup poll finds that just 38% support Bush's call for an increase of troops to Iraq, while 59% oppose it. Moreover, 61% say they favor a non-binding Democratic resolution opposing Bush's plan, yet just 47% say they support Congress blocking funding for the new troops. Also in the poll, Bush's job approval is at 34% and his Iraq handling is 28%. 

Another GOP senator who's opposed to the troop increase? In an interview with the Manchester Union Leader, Sen. John Sununu said he doesn't think additional troops should be sent to Iraq until the country "has proven it is ready to take control of its own nation on several fronts and before U.S. commanders show that new military tactics and rules of engagement are working." 

Per the New York Times, the departing top US military commander in Iraq "warned that it could take months before there were any real signs of progress" resulting from the new strategy in Iraq. "'As with any plan, there are no guarantees of success, and it's not going to happen overnight,' said the commander, Gen. George W. Casey Jr. 'But with sustained political support and the concentrated efforts on all sides, I believe that this plan can work.'"

NBC's Andrea Mitchell, traveling with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on her Middle East trip, reports that Saudi Arabia gave Rice a tepid endorsement of the "objective" of Bush's new plan for Iraq. But the Saudi foreign minister indicated a wait-and-see attitude as to whether it could work. However, a senior official traveling with Rice said the Saudis are "deeply skeptical" that the Maliki government is up to the challenge of making the Bush Iraq plan work.

The Los Angeles Times, meanwhile, says that the Iraqi government is solidifying its relations with Iran, "even as the United States turns up the rhetorical heat and bolsters its military forces to confront Tehran's influence in Iraq." 

The UN is reporting that nearly 35,000 Iraqi civilians were killed last year -- "a sharp increase from the numbers reported previously by the Iraqi government."