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Threats Wrapped in Misunderstandings

Sadr, who controls 30 seats in Iraq's 275-member parliament and four ministries, is also opposed to the idea. He has demanded a timetable for U.S. withdrawal.

"We don't want to bring any advisers," said Nasar al-Rubaie, the leader of Sadr's legislative bloc. "We are capable to arm our security and military forces. If the Americans withdraw today from Iraq, the next day there will be security in all of Iraq."

The report's recommendation for outside diplomatic pressure is also divisive. One of Maliki's chief rivals, Abdul Aziz al-Hakim of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, who has close ties to Iran, has rejected the proposal for Sunni Arab countries to become more involved in Iraq.

Kurdish leaders are also worried about interference from Turkey, which has vowed to invade Iraq's Kurdish regions if Kurds move toward independence or assert control over the oil field at Kirkuk.

Maliki supports having a regional conference, as long as it is held inside Iraq.

Maliki has rekindled ties with Iran and Syria, but there is still suspicion among Sunni parties, as well as some Shiite groups, of Iran's growing influence in Iraq. And it is unclear whether either Iran or Syria, which the Bush administration views as sponsors of terrorism, would enter into a dialogue with Washington.

"If we can make them part of the solution rather than part of the problem, it will be good for Iraq," said Othman. "But it matters how much they gain from the United States."

Sammarai, the Sunni lawmaker, said the Bush administration has a responsibility to fulfill its pledge to bring democracy to Iraq, in which minorities will have a voice. "Because of their mistakes, it is so complicated now," Sammarai said. "Now, they say, 'We're going to leave the Iraqis to solve their problems.' "

Said Cordesmann: "The U.S. effectively sent a bull in to liberate a china shop, and the Study Group now called upon the U.S. to threaten to remove the bull if the shop doesn't fix the china."

Staff writers Nancy Trejos in Baghdad and Rajiv Chandrasekaran in Washington contributed to this report.

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