(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India
Iraq:Sham US Withdrawal
THE speech by
Barak Obama in the last week of August announcing the withdrawal of
troops from Iraq
has been met with scepticism at home and with trepidation among
sections of the governing Iraqi elite. Seventeen months ago, president
had pledged to withdraw all US
combat troops from Iraq
by September 1, 2010. Obama in an earlier speech to disabled US army veterans in the city of Atlanta
categorically stated that America’s
mission in Iraq”
come to an end on September 1. He also promised to adhere to the next
deadline of removing all troops by the end of 2011. But the fact of the
is that a significant number of American troops along with military
(mercenaries) remain stationed in military bases all over Iraq.
first week of September itself, American soldiers were involved in
one of the Iraqi bases came under attack from the Iraqi Resistance.
In the speech
he had made
on February 27, 2009, soon after coming to office, Obama had said that
chosen a timeline that would remove all combat troops by the end of
2010. But in his Atlanta speech, there
was no specific
mention of removing all combat troops from Iraq,
only vague talk of ending the
combat mission there. After August, there still will be 50,000 American
is quite a substantial number, double than that of the American troops
in South Korea.
there is the additional presence of more than 100,000 US
“contractors”. Many of them are recently retired military personnel
from the US
with a military background from countries like Uganda,
Peru, Colombia and other countries friendly
to the US are
serving as “contractors”, read
mercenaries, in Iraq.
administration has said that the primary US role in Iraq henceforth
will be “to
advise and assist Iraqi forces”, indications are that combat
involving US forces, will continue side by side with the training
programs. The Obama administration states
that it will
“advise and assist” the Iraqi army in “anti-terrorism missions” and
This is likely to continue beyond 2011 when all American troops are
vacate Iraqi territory. And even if the American troops are actually
they will anyway be stationed a stones throw away in Kuwait
and neighbouring Gulf
countries. Under the status of forces agreement signed between the US and Iraq,
US has full control
the airspace over Iraq.
have said that American
troops will engage in offensive combat activities if requested by the
army. The US
secretary of defence,
Robert Gates, had clarified in early 2009 itself that American
forces” remaining in Iraq
after September 2010, would no longer be called “combat brigades”.
would be re-christened as “advisory and assistance brigades”. The idea
brainchild of general David Petraeus who was loath to see the American
mission in Iraq
come to a precipitate end. The Pentagon now seems to have prevailed
Obama administration to keep the US
military beyond 2011, the year in which all US
troops have to withdraw, as per
the agreement with the Iraqi government in 2008.
top US commander in
Iraq, told the Washington Post soon after that agreement that he would
like a US force of
around 35,000 to be in Iraq till at least
2015. The former US ambassador to Iraq, Ryan C Crocker, a Bush
the NYT that American troops will have to be in Iraq for “a long period
time----evenif it is solely in support
of the US weapons systems”.Crocker who
was in Iraq
till 2009 and was present when the withdrawal agreement was signed with
Iraqi government, has said that even when negotiations were going on
Iraqi government, it was understood that a smaller presence of American
in the country much beyond the withdrawal date, was always considered
Joseph Biden, has suggested on several occasions that it is not in his
country’s national interests to withdraw completely from Iraq.
administration has already sold Iraq
expensive weapons systems and may be on verge of arming the Iraqi air
with F-16 fighters. American officials say that sale of high tech
itself necessitates the prolonged stay of American soldiers and
Iraqi troops, they claim, will take a long time to gain expertise in
handling of sophisticated weaponry. The US
hopes that training and arming Iraq,
would help in the creation of a quisling army.
American ambassador to Iraq, James F Jeffrey, has said that America’s
presence” all over Iraq should continue for another three to five years
the withdrawal of all the US combat troops in 2011, despite the pledge
made by president
Obama. In June this year, the US
state department requested for the creation of a special combat ready
protection force to ensure the safety of its personnel deployed in Iraq
planned withdrawal of US forces in 2012. Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state has said that she
the number of military contractors protecting diplomatic personnel in
“enduring presence posts” in Iraq
to increase from 2,700 to 7000. The US
army spokesman in Iraq,
after the Obama speech, said that “in practical terms, nothing will
change” in Iraq.
al Maliki, the Iraqi prime minister recently acknowledged that US
will have to stay much beyond 2011 to train the 660,000 strong Iraqi
police force and pro-government militias.
The US embassy in Iraq
will be one of the largest diplomatic establishments Washington has
worldwide. The embassy which
is being built at a cost of $740 million will house 800 personnel. The
located within the “Green Zone” in Baghdad
the size of the Vatican.
also has 94 big and small military bases in the country. It is unlikely
will abandon them
in a hurry for a variety of reasons, the most important being the
the West has re-established over Iraqi oil. 60 per cent of Iraq’s
now once again under foreign control and that too under contracts that
valid for the next 20 years. Iraq
has the second largest oil reserves in the world after Saudi Arabia.
oil companies who were expelled by Saddam Hussein now play a big role
in production and exporting of Iraqi crude.
that there will be chaos if the US military leaves, Iraq’s most senior
official, Lt Gen Babaker Zebari, said in the second week of August that
forces are not in a position to secure the country till 2020 and asked
military to delay its withdrawal plans and hang on to at least some of
military bases. Zebari is a Kurd. The Kurds running the northern Iraq as a quasi independent state fear
American withdrawal will strengthen the hands of the Arab nationalists
loath to give up important cities like Kirkuk
American forces have strengthened their presence in Kirkuk, an important oil refining
help the Kurdish forces stave off attacks from resistance forces.
led by Izzat Ibrahim, who was Saddam’s senior most deputy, have
beginning of a new offensive against the Americans and their local
aide of Saddam Hussein, his long serving foreign minister, Tariq Aziz,
divergent position. He warned form his prison cell, that an American
withdrawal at this juncture would be catastrophic for the Iraqi nation.
told a British newspaper that the US
had “destroyed” the Iraqi nation and that America should only leave
rebuilding the institutions of government and the civilian
brutal invasion and occupation has destroyed. Aziz, like many secular
is fearful that if the Americans actually leave the country, the
vacuum will be filled by sectarian forces, inimical to the secular
espoused by the Baath Party.
million displaced Iraqis, see no light at the end of the tunnel. After
years of occupation, the infrastructure of the country remains
Electricity supply and access to clean drinking water for the
majority of Iraqis is sporadic at best. The security situation remains
is a city that is divided by countless blast walls and check points.
of July saw a dramatic rise in suicide bombings and civilian
death toll was the highest recorded in a month in the last two years.
American military has conceded that on an average there are 15 militant
reports about the Al Qaeda in Iraq
making a comeback. In the last week of July, according to reports in
media, Al Qaeda militants struck in the heart of Baghdad, killing 16 members of the
security forces and briefly planting the organisation’s flag in the
the Iraqi capital. Al Qaeda had also claimed responsibility for the
the offices of Al Arabiya television channel in July. That attack
people. The brunt of the militant attacks is being faced by the
are Sunni fighters who had defected from Al Qaeda and joined up with
American forces. They had helped the American score some fleeting
victories over the resistance after the “military surge” ordered by the
administration. Now things seem to be back at square one in Iraq.