Bremer: Insurgency 'More Resilient' Than Expected

ByED O'KEEFE

June 11, 2006 — -- Ambassador L. Paul Bremer, the former leader of the U.S.-led interim government in Iraq, called for a "military strategy to defeat the insurgency," admitting, "the insurgency has proven more resilient than we thought it would be."

In an exclusive appearance on "This Week with George Stephanopoulos," Bremer, who led the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq for over a year, said the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, leader of the insurgency in Iraq, and the formation of the country's government made for a "good week in Iraq."

"This will increase internal tensions within al Qaeda," he predicted. "The operational effectiveness [of the insurgency], at least in the short run, is affected."

The ambassador who ran Iraq when Saddam Hussein was captured repeatedly insisted, "We need to design an effective miltary strategy to defeat the insurgency."

Bremer did not reject outright talks with the insurgency, if they are possible. But he described "a small, hardcore" number of terrorists who will continue to fight the burgeoning government and U.S. forces in the country.

"They're going to have to be dealt with," Bremer said.

He recalled that discussions with members of the insurgency were often fruitless given the lack of a formal power structure.

As President Bush met with his war cabinet at Camp David, Bremer said, "We have to keep focused on the point that we must have a strategy for victory against the insurgents."

Bremer said such a strategy might require more, not less, troops in the Iraq.

"I don't know if that requires more troops or different troops," Bremer told ABC News' chief Washington correspondent George Stephanopoulos.

But, no matter which course the President chooses, Bremer said, "There should be no deadlines on when we bring the troops home. I think that is a mistake. It only encourages the insurgency to continue."

Bremer theorized that the most likely first step in such a strategy either would be to secure the capital of Baghdad or continue battling insurgents in the most dangerous provinces.

"That's a question for the president's military advisors," Bremer said.

George Stephanopoulos' entire interview with Bremer can be viewed at "This Week's" Web page at www.abcnews.com.

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