Tag Archives: troop withdrawal

Bush Says No Reduction Of Forces In Iraq

President Bush has decided to maintain present levels of troops in Iraq at least until sometimes next year. There might be a reduction when about 8,000 return home by next February. Bush apparently has listened to requests by military leaders in Iraq who are still uncertain as to the length of time the present reduction of violence will last, and believe it necessary to keep troops at the current level until it is certain the Iraq government can handle the situation on its own. General Petraeus has argued against any reduction in the number of American troops until at least next June.

It is uncertain whether Senator McCain or Senator Obama will benefit from the announcement. Most probably, McCain would have benefited if troops began coming home and he could have boasted it was the result of the surge he has supported. On the other hand, Obama could argue troops coming home prove he was right in forecasting there could be a reduction in force.

Of course, one unanswered question is how those fighting in Iraq feel about the delay.

American Military Uncertain About Drawdown

A string of bombings in the city of Tal Afar, a small but strategic locale, is raising fears about a return to sectarian conflict highlights the complexity of withdrawing forces from Iraq. General Petraeus has yet to conclude US forces can be withdrawn in the coming months. Since April the four bombings in the city have killed 40 people and wounded dozens of others which has alarmed Mayor Najim Abdullah if Iraqi troops could enforce law and order in his city if the Americans left. Theoretically, in 2005, Iraq soldiers drove out militants from the city, but three years later there are still bombings and deaths. Abduallah notes: “there used to be a whole brigade here and now it’s less. Soon these policies(withdrawal) will backfire in Tal Afar and allow terrorists to come in.”

Hopefully, the bombings in places like Tal Afar will not increase once American troops withdraw, but the question still remains– are Iraq forces sufficiently strong to maintain law and order in their nation once the Americans depart?

Iraq Demands Troop Withdrawal Deadline

Senator John McCain who has been arguing for a continued American presence in Iraq was undoubtedly disturbed by demands of the Iraqi government for quick withdrawal of US troops. Unfortunately, for the Republican candidate, the Iraqi government appears more in tune with the “inexperienced” Obama than the man who claims to be conversant in foreign affairs. Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari emphasized the United States must provide a “very clear timeline.” This change in attitude reflects growing confidence among Iraqi leaders they can handle security issues in their nation without American assistance. Zebari told Reuters news agency there has been progress in discussions about withdrawal and “the deal is very close. It is about to be closed.”

A major stumbling block is over US demands for immunity for soldiers if they are charged with violating Iraq law. Other issues pertain to American rights to detain Iraqi civilians and to the entire nature of military operations. Bush for years claimed he wanted Iraq to assert more control over fighting terrorism. Now, they are, and Bush is somewhat unhappy.

US Troops Heading Home This Fall

Five years ago, as US forces prepared to invade Iraq, the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff urged President Bush to allocate twice the number of troops he wanted for the invasion. George Bush placed greater reliance on the advice of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and on Vice President Cheney who derided Army requests as representing old fashioned thinking. Five years have passed, 4,000 Americans have been killed and over 30,000 wounded before George Bush finally got around to accepting five year old advice. There has been a dramatic drop in violence and the Iraq government is urging withdrawal of American forces. During the 2004 presidential race, President Bush told the American people the Iraq army would shortly be able to handle the situation. Four years later his statement has the semblance of reality as Iraqi soldiers are assuming greater responsibilities in the front lines.

US troops will be leaving Iraq but many of them will simply be taking a detour on the road home to stop by and do some fighting in Afghanistan where the situation has become somewhat chaotic. Of course, seven years ago, President Bush was urged to focus on wiping out the Taliban, but he chose to fight in Iraq. The legacy of George Bush lives on in death, funerals, and men and women carrying the wounds of combat in their everyday lives.

Some US Troop Withdrawals Expected This Fall

There is growing likelihood President Bush will announce the withdrawal of about 5,000 troops sometime this fall in view of the sharp reduction in violence in Iraq. Politically, the Iraq government is pushing for faster withdrawal of American troops from their nation as they grown more and more confidence of the government’s ability to maintain law and order. A large contingent of Sunni lawmakers have returned to Parliament which is a sign of possible lessening of Sunni-Shiite tensions. Add into this shift is growing desire on the part of the American public for the return of their sons and daughters and one is left with the conclusion, the withdrawal process will commence in the coming months.

However, possible roadblocks to this process is the still weak condition of the Iraqi armed forces. There are uncertainties such as a possible uprising by followers of al-Sadr which would strain resources and abilities of the Iraq army to confront such forces.

It is only natural for military leaders to be cautious and we can expect a slow down in withdrawal until those on the scene of action are certain Iraqi armed forces are competent. Of course, a hitch in these plans might arise from Afghanistan and the growing insurgency in that nation. It would not be surprising if troops from Iraq wound up in Afghanistan rather than in America.

Sorry John, Iraqis Are For Obama’s Views, Not Yours!

The ever declining campaign of Senator John McCain for the presidency took another blow to the stomach with an announcement from Baghdad that Iraqi leaders essentially agree with the views of Barack Obama that all US troops can leave their nation by 2010. McCain has been insisting establishing a timeline is giving into those who don’t want America to “win” in Iraq. Unfortunately, for the senator from Arizona, President Bush has also agreed on a timeline. Barack Obama sat down with Prime Minister Al-Maliki in Baghdad’s heavily protected green Zone. Ali Al-Dabagh, a close associate of Maliki, sat in on the meeting and when asked about a date for withdrawal that meets desires of the Maliki government, Al-Dabagh said, “up to 2010.” That matches Obama’s pledge to withdraw troops within 16 months after taking office.

President Bush is trying to twist and turn away from the reality he has agreed to a timeline with Prime Minister Maliki, and that timeline is in accord with views of Senator Barack Obama. Senator McCain has once again be left out to dry by his fellow Republican by still insisting there can not be a timeline.

Admiral Mullen Concerned About Troop Timeline

Admiral Mike Mullen, who heads the Joint Chiefs of Staff, expressed concern over the recent agreement between President Bush and the Iraq government about a “general time horizon” for withdrawal of US forces. In an article this weekend in Der Spiegel, Prime Minister Maliki said he wanted US troops out of his country “as soon as possible” and termed Barack Obama’s suggestion for 16 months as “the right time frame for a withdrawal.” Admiral Mullen expressed his concern concerning the rapidity of any withdrawal. “‘I’d worry about any kind of rapid movement out and creating instability where where have stability.”

As an individual responsible for the safety of American troops it is only natural for Admiral Mullen to express these concerns. However, he was clear “we’re making progress and we can move forward accordingly based on those conditions.” In other words, all key decision makers accept that withdrawal must and will proceed.

Now, if we can just get John McCain to agree that withdrawal is Ok within the coming months all the key players will be in agreement.

Iraqis For Obama Not McCain

Barack Obama is discovering a new constituency in the streets of Iraqi cities as most Iraqis appear to regard him as their favorite in the upcoming presidential election. Mustafa Salah, an office worker worker in Basra, exclaimed with passion, ” I support Obama. I think he is the best thing for Iraq and the world. If McCain wins, I will be devastated.” In a dozen interviews, Iraqi citizens told reporters from the Reuters news agency they much prefer Barack Obama over his opponent John McCain. Hisham Fadhi, a doctor in the northern city of Kirkuk, expressed the view of many when he commented: “He(Obama) is much better than others because he is black and black people were tyrannized in America. I think he will feel our suffering.”

Iraqis most probably are divided over Obama’s plan to withdraw American troops since they are now enjoying a few weeks of peace as the surge has made al-Qaeda forces retreat from many urban areas. Kamiran Mohammed Said, who recently was on a study trip in America noted: “I found Democrats are more peaceful and avoid wars.” But, undoubtedly, many shared the view of Abdul-Mahdi Hadi, a teacher who commented: “For the moment, I’m thinking about getting enough electricity.” First things first.

Iraq Backs Obama View Or Does Obama Back Iraq View?

The government of Iraq has made clear its intention of establishing a clear time line for withdrawal of American troops from their nation. In sharp contrast to the views of President Bush and Senator John McCain, the Iraqi government and American officials have agreed to seek a “general time horizon” for deeper reductions in the size of the US armed force in Iraq. The White House said President Bush and Prime Minister Maliki in a phone conversation agreed that any accord between their nations should include, “a general time horizon for meeting the aspirational goals, such as the resumption of Iraq security control in their cities and provinces and the further reduction of U.S. combat forces from Iraq.”

Bush has vetoed efforts by the Democratic Congress to establish time lines on withdrawal although he now is negotiating with the Iraq government for the same end goals. Admiral Mullen insists things are much better although he hesitates to announce it is time for the complete withdrawal from Iraq. At the same time, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates is talking about sending troops currently in Iraq to Afghanistan to deal with that ever worsening situation.

Senator Barack Obama must be smiling as events unroll in Iraq. He has been urging the establishment of a time line only to be ridiculed by Senator McCain. Now, the president is discussing a timeline. One can only wonder if George Bush has decided to brush off John McCain and join the Obama bandwagon. In any respect news of discussing timelines is not good news for John McCain.

No Yellow Brick Road To Peace In Iraq Claims Petreaus

General David Petreaus told a congressional committee he wanted a 45 day moratorium on withdrawal of American forces from Iraq once the surge concludes. “At the end of that period, we will commence a process of assessment to examine the conditions on the ground and, over time, determine when we can make recommendations for further reductions.” He urged the need for flexibility so that his command can make necessary adjustments in light of the situation in Iraq. As Senator Levin noted, “what you’ve given to your chain of command is a plan which has no end to it.”

The reality is that each month since January has witnessed an ever increasing rise in the number of American soldiers killed and wounded as well as Iraq civilians. Although Ambassador Crocker argues there is steady improvement in Iraq’s government, there is absolutely no evidence Prime Minister Maliki has won over the Sunni population, let alone Shiite militants such as the Mahdi militia of Muqtada al-Sadr. The political situation is at a stalemate.

General Petraeus is an honorable man who seeks to win a war, but neither he nor the Bush administration has any comprehension as to the meaning of “win the war.” Has anyone clearly defined the meaning of “winning?” Unlike, in most wars America has fought, the government was clear about war aims, but the Bush administration has never gotten past rhetorical statements of “victory.”

Perhaps, it is time to review possibilities of a three nation solution in which the Sunnis have their own government, the Shiites have a government, and everyone finally admits the Kurds have a functioning government that has no need of anything to do with Iraq. A three nation solution at least defines clearly what constitutes victory.