Tag Archives: US withdrawal

Iraq Pullout Or A Moment Of Freedom Before Return?

American troops have withdrawn from the streets of Iraq cities, but the beat of violence goes on and on. The pullout was celebrated by al-Qaeda and other militants with a twenty four gun salute of bombs that left 33 dead in Kirkuk and 92 wounded. Iraq had a holiday to hail the event, but for some reason militants believed that meant they had permission to bomb at will. Prime Minister Maliki said it was “an offence to the Iraqis” to believe that once foreign troops left the cities, there would even more violence. President Obama warned “make no mistake, there will be difficult days ahead. We know that violence in Iraq will continue.” Words of warning or a statement about the future?

The violence has everything and nothing to do with the presence of American troops in cities. Prime Minister Maliki has failed to integrate Sunnis into either his government or the armed forces. The success of the Awakening Councils has ended because Maliki has refused to work with its leaders in a new coalition of concerned Iraqis. There will be violence until Maliki gets serious about uniting the nation.

A Celebration Too Soon Or Too Late?

People are crowding the streets of Iraqi cities waving flags and shooting fireworks into the sky to celebrate what Prime Minister Maliki terms “National Sovereignty Day.” Waleed al-Bahadili, a typical Iraqi citizen, told a reporter: “All of us are happy– Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds on this day. The Americans harmed and insulted us too much.” Iraqi forces assumed control of all major cities as Americans left to return to their bases. The question in the mind of the people of Iraq is can its government reduce violence and deal with al-Qaeda? The withdrawal is teh first step on the road home for American troops. The real question is will they board planes and ships to return home or will they board them to head north to Afghansitan?

Lingering in the background is the other issue-what happens if violence escalates in the coming months? Will the Maliki government ask Americans to return to the cities? What happens if Shiite-Sunni conflict escalates? And, what happens if Kurds take over major cities in their quest to control oil production?

There are fireworks in the sky. Will there be other fireworks in the sky in the days ahead?

Dozens More Die In Iraq

Another market explosion in Iraq. Estimates are that about 56 people are dead and over a hundred are wounded. We are now days before American troops leave Iraq cities and transfer power to the Iraqi army in terms of law and order. The explosions are mainly directed at Shiite areas in large cities and undoubtedly are being conducted by Sunni or al-Qaeda groups which intend to destabilize the Iraq government. The question which must arise is whether th goal is to compel the return of US forces or is the goal to demonstrate the current Iraq government is unable to maintain law and order? The other unknown is what would be the response of President Obama if he was requested to return American forces to Iraq cities.

A major issue is the failure of the Maliki government to integrate Sunni forces which were working with American troops in order to reduce the power of al-Qaeda. The Awakening Councils were successful, but instead of cooperating with them, the Maliki government has not recruited Sunnis into the armed forces and does not cooperate with Awakening Council leaders. Perhaps, if the Iraq government cooperated to create a united Iraq these bombings would be reduced.

US Foces Depart From Iraq Town-AlQaeda Enters

General Petraeus has boasted of reduction in deaths of American soldiers as a result of the surge. There is even some speculation this success might result in withdrawal of some American forces from Iraq. But, according to the Iraq newspaper, Azzaman, the departure of US troops from the strategic town of Tuz Khormato led to the immediate entrry of al-Qaeda units which stepped into the vacuum created by not having Americans to fight. Iraq members of parliament are concerned that as US troops leave it may simply be too great an attraction to militants who would step in to run towns that had been cleared of their presence. One parliamentary group issued a statement about their concerns: “The tragic and horrific events in Tuz Khormato only a few days following the withdrawal of the multi-national forces(US military) is a clear indicator of how ill prepared and weak the army and security forces are.”

President Bush is attempting to claim credit for success in Iraq due to reduction of death figures for American troops. But, the surge was, in theory, a means to achieve the ends of Iraqis running their own country. The example of Tuz Khormato suggests the surge is a long way from accomplishing its goal of not merely reducing death figures but of building an Iraq armed force that can handle terrorism in their own nation.

Democratic Senate Iraq Plan Has Ambiguous Deadline

Proposals emerging from Senate Democratic members are somewhat ambiguous regarding the exact nature of what is to be done concerning complete withdrawal of American forces from Iraq. The Democratic proposals ensure thousands of troops will remain for years in Iraq even though there is hope US forces can cease engaging in combat duties by December, 2008. Part of the difficulty in creating firm deadlines is the uncertainty as to how many logistical and intelligence personnel would be required to sustain those involved in combat operations. No one at this point in time knows if the current reduction in terrorist attacks reflects a momentary level or is it a long term end result of the surge? Are insurgents biding their time until American forces are reduced in number in order to resume large scale terrorist attacks. How many US soldiers will be needed in order to complete training of an Iraq army?

As one who believed the Iraq war from day one was a mistake and who has opposed the disastrous Bush policies, the realist side of me recognizes all American forces can not be quickly withdrawn. George Bush’s mistakes have left a legacy that will require years to handle. Unfortunately, this may not be what those seeking immediate withdrawal wish to hear, but it is the reality of a mess that requires time to clean up.