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Sunday, August 22, 2010

Will the US soldiers be in Iraq beyond 2011?

Md. Masum Billah

The last US combat brigade pulled out of Iraq on August 19, 2010 at dawn. It came ahead of the planned declaration of an end to US combat operations in Iraq by an August 31 deadline. It shows a key milestone in the withdrawal of American forces more than seven years after the US-led invasion virtually for a wrong decision of Bush administration. Under cover of darkness, the 4th Stryker Brigade , 2nd Infantry Division, crossed into neighboring Kuwait. . It took two days for 360 vehicles and 1200 soldiers to travel from Camp Liberty on Baghdad's outskirts and Camp Taji of the capital. The rest of the 4000 strong brigade left Iraq by air. About 56000 US soldiers remain in Iraq with that figure set to drop to 50000 by September 1, less than a third of the peak level during the surge of 2007.

The jubilant crowds shouted cheerfully. They gave farewell waving their hands. Ahmed Ibrahim 35 years old young man expressed his feeling in this way " No words can describe how I feel today. The occupation stayed in Iraq's hearts for seven years and this is a big occasion that deserves to be a permanent national day in future. The occupiers put me in Bucca prison in Iraq. But now I am free and so is Iraq." Another reveler said, " It has been a long time since the last big celebration. We have now got rid of the occupier and we will not see them again on Iraqi streets. Baghdad needs the peace of the past life back again. We want to regain what we had. But at the same time security forces now have extra duties and responsibilities. And I hope they can carry them out." US administration still raises the question of security of Iraq in absence of US forces. Actually, Iraqis seem to be prepared to tackle their own situation. No occupation can give any reasonable and permanent solution to insurgency. Ordinary people's expressions clandestinely say how far they love their motherland and how much pleased they are today.

Under a security agreement signed between Iraq and US in January, which was enshrined in June milestone. The agreement says that US troops can no longer embark on operation on their own meaning their position has got weaker in Iraq. The Iraqi insurgents have become increasingly sophisticated at fighting US troops and more importantly very adept in concealment. Additionally, many have moved into key positions in the security, military and intelligent networks of the country effectively controlling parts of the mechanisms of control of the government. The US sacrificed ten thousands of soldiers in Vietnam. They could clearly understand that Iraq was going to be the second Vietnam for them. So, it was better to leave with the last respect.

On September 1, the US mission in Iraq will be re-christened ' Operation New Dawn' from ' Operation Iraqi Freedom' To fill the gap left by departing troops, the US State Department is to increase more than double the number of security contractors it employs in Iraq to around 7000.Jeffery takes up his post during political deadlock in Iraq, with no new government yet formed since election in March, and in the middle of the holy Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, when insurgent attacks typically reached its peak. It is known to the world as the whole world witnessed that as a president candidate Barack Obama campaigned to end the seven-year old war responsibly and as president he has been explicit in his assurances to Americans that no troops will remain in Iraq from January 2012. While violence has dipped sharply since the height of sectarian warfare from 2006-2007 Iraq remains fragile and its leaders have not resolved a number of politically explosive issues that could easily trigger renewed fighting. Iraq's military chief, the former US general who oversaw the training of Iraq's security forces, says a US military presence will be needed beyond 2011. Obama's defense secretary Robert Gates says that they have left the door open to that possibility in comments last week while emphasizing that Iraq's new government still to be formed after an inconclusive election in March, would first have to ask if a new government is formed there and they want to talk about beyond 2011 'we are obliviously open to that discussion.' . His comments were likely not welcomed in the White House. In November tough congressional elections are going to be held. The president will show keeping his promise to withdraw all US troops by the end of 2011. There have been more than 4400 US military deaths in Iraq since the US- led invasion in 2003. Americans definitely don't want to loose any more soldiers.

The US -Iraq military pact that came into force in 2009 which provides the legal basis for American troops to be in Iraq. Under the agreement all US troops must be there by 2012. But US negotiator says that even as the pact was being negotiated, it was considered likely it would be quietly revised later to allow a longer -term although much smaller, force to remain. But the opinion polls shows that Americans are tired of nearly a decade of war in Afghanistan and Iraq, any decision to engage US military involvement in Iraq would enormously risky for Obama, who is up for reelection in 2012.

He would almost certainly face a backlash from fellow Democrats in Congress and from the left wing of his party, which is already disenchanted with him. Obama may be unwilling to alienate his party base as he heads into an election year, or he could decide it in his country's strategic interests to keep troops longer in Iraq again, only if a new Iraqi government asks.

The president has proven to be a very pragmatic leader. As conditions change, he has adapted his positions in Afghanistan and Iraq. So, I think he wants to hold his promise until Lieutenant General James Dubik, who oversaw the training of Iraq security forces from 2007 to 2008, says, "A discussion after 2011 is not just what does Iraq need, but what is in our strategic best interest."

Dubik continues, " Post 2011 Iraq would still need US and Western help in modernizing its forces and training them to use MI Abrams, tanks, F-16s and other sophisticated military hardware it is buying from the United States" P.J. Crowley, a spokesman of State Department said in msnbc TV interview," while departure is an historic moment, it is not the end of the U.S. Mission in Iraq. We are ending the war---but we are not ending our work in Iraq. We have a long term commitment to Iraq." The world wants to see that commitment must nod toward real peace and happiness, not to show any greed to grab Middle East liquid gold.
Source: The New Nation - Bangladesh newspaper – Date: 23-08-2010

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