How real is the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq?

Discussion in 'West Asia & Africa' started by ejazr, Sep 4, 2010.

  1. ejazr

    ejazr Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    The Hindu : Opinion / Lead : How real is the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq?

    Under cover of darkness, hundreds of armoured vehicles rumbled across the Iraqi border into Kuwait, marking the much-touted withdrawal of American combat forces. Dominant sections of the international media interpreted the August 19 pullout as a political statement — the fulfilment of a commitment by President Barack Obama to bring home troops entrapped by the Bush administration in the Iraqi military quagmire. In short, the American public was made to believe that the pullout by the fourth Stryker Brigade was leading to the end of the U.S. occupation. On August 31, Mr. Obama formally declared in a televised address that all American combat operations in Iraq had ceased. The spin-doctors in the American establishment and their willing accomplices in the media have indeed done a marvellous job. An extraordinary task — of dressing up a new phase of Iraqi occupation as the beginning of its end — has been accomplished.

    However, many questions arise in the wake of the withdrawal. How should the pullout be interpreted, if not as the occupation entering its terminal phase? What are the facts on the ground, and what prospects do they hold for the future of Iraqis?

    There are three significant markers that the Iraqi occupation is not ending and is being merely repackaged. First, the suggestion that the U.S. combat operations are ending is just not true. The nomenclature, however, has changed significantly. Instead of being called “combat operations,” the act of chasing militants, joint raids by U.S. Special Forces and their Iraqi counterparts on militant strongholds, and other offensive military tasks will henceforth be called “stability operations.”

    In fact, the U.S. military officials in Iraq have surprisingly acknowledged that nothing on the ground, in terms of tactics, will change. Speaking recently to The New York Times, Maj. Gen. Stephen Lanza, chief U.S. military spokesman in Iraq, said: “In practical terms, nothing will change. We are already doing stability operations.”

    Secondly, decision-makers in Washington have decided to keep 50,000 military personnel in Iraq till the end of next year. However, their withdrawal is not a certainty. This was acknowledged by Gen. Ray Odierno, top U.S. commander in Iraq, during an interview with CBS television: “If they [Iraqis] ask us that they might want us to stay longer, we certainly would consider that.”

    Significantly, the Iraqi army chief, Lt. Gen. Babakar Zabari, has already called for an extension of the American military presence in the country. At a Baghdad conference, the Kurdish-origin General said, “The U.S. army must stay until the Iraqi army is fully ready in 2020.” The incumbent Prime Minister, Nouri Al- Maliki, however, later, firmly rejected the view.
    Privatising occupation

    Even if the Americans pull out the remaining 50,000 troops at the end of 2011, it will not mean that the Iraqis would be in charge of their security. On the contrary, the presence of security contractors, comprising a core element of mercenaries, is being beefed up and superimposed to safeguard U.S. interests. In other words, the process of privatising the U.S. occupation in Iraq through a mercenary “surge” is set to acquire momentum in the coming days and months.

    Significantly, it is the U.S. State Department which is taking the lead in this exercise under cover of “diplomatic security.” It has argued that it needs personnel, equipment and related wherewithal to protect its diplomatic assets in Iraq. These include the gigantic embassy in Baghdad. Spread over 104 acres on the banks of the Tigris, it has 21 buildings, and is already the size of the Vatican. Then there are the “enduring presence posts” in the existing American military bases of Basra, Arbil, Kirkuk, Nineveh and Diyala. The State Department has already indicated that its assets may expand in the future, which becomes a further reason for augmenting mercenary presence in Iraq. It has already asked Pentagon for 24 Black Hawk helicopters and 50 special vehicles which can resist landmine blasts, apart from other military hardware. At present, 1,00,000 security contractors, including 11,000 mercenaries, have been deployed in Iraq.

    There is also sufficient indication that private security firms will draw their manpower from third world countries to minimise shedding of American blood in Iraq. In a recent rocket attack in the protected Green Zone, two Ugandans and a Peruvian security contractor were killed. It may, therefore, not be surprising if more western private security firms open their offices in third world countries, especially Africa and Latin America, to fill their mercenary ranks bound for trouble-spots such as Iraq. India too may offer an attractive ground for recruitment.

    Despite coming under sustained fire in Iraq over the last seven years, it is unlikely that the Americans have given up on their strategic objective of exercising control over Iraqi oil. This is an enduring motive of continuing the occupation, though the tactics for achieving success may change over time, in the light of the quality of resistance and competing military demands in other combat theatres such as Afghanistan.

    Those who argue that oil was not a motive for Iraq's U.S.-led invasion fail to see the big picture. Of course, the invasion of Iraq was not about guaranteeing energy security to the U.S., which had multiple sources for accessing oil. By possessing unrivalled military assets, it was also well prepared to safeguard the passage of tankers from oil wells across the globe to American shores.
    Control over oil

    The objective of U.S. controlling Iraqi oil was both political and long-term. By establishing control over Iraq, the U.S. could do two things. One, it could potentially undermine the OPEC clout by opening the flow of Iraqi oil into the international market, thereby debilitating the cartel's ability to influence prices. This goal is yet to be accomplished and the U.S. should now be looking at augmenting Iraqi production capacity at the earliest.

    Two, by occupying Iraq, the U.S positioned itself well to deny future energy flows to its emerging geopolitical rivals. The Chinese, especially, read well the political implications of the American dominance over Iraq. Anticipating the possible negative role that the Americans could play to impede their energy supplies during a crisis, the Chinese post-2003 accelerated their drive to procure oil from areas beyond the Persian Gulf. They also began a concerted effort to draw supplies through less vulnerable pipelines running into China from the neighbouring energy reservoirs of Central Asia. Given the priceless political advantages that control over Iraqi oil offers, it is unlikely that the U.S. policymakers will, as yet, be prepared to throw in the towel in Iraq.

    With the Americans firmly on their their back for the foreseeable future, what options do the Iraqi leaders have to acquire greater room for manoeuvre? For starters, the Iraqis can maximise their scope for political assertion and strive for unity to the extent possible under the difficult circumstances. The first test that the Iraqis face is the formation of a new government, following the March 7 parliamentary elections. The Iraqiyya party led by Ayad Allawi, a former interim Prime Minister, has got 91 seats, followed closely by Mr. Maliki's State of Law formation. Notwithstanding their differences in background and politics, the two leaders have some basic similarities. Both are nationalists, who believe in a strong executive at the Centre as the starting point for steering Iraq out of its woes. In a country ideologically mutilated by sectarian and ethnic agendas, respect for Iraqi nationalism and a strong Centre should be enough for the two to override their differences, however substantive, in order to form a stable coalition. Along with Moqtada-al-Sadr, a Shia cleric but strong believer in national unity, the three can form the core that has enough ammunition and popular backing to resist American proclivity for perpetuating a puppet regime in Baghdad.

    However, the new government cannot hope for a long-term and independent survival unless it amends, if not entirely dispenses with, Iraq's dysfunctional Constitution. In the name of federalism, the Constitution has made provincial governments so powerful that the Central executive is rendered toothless in enforcing a national agenda. Besides, Parliament has been so lopsidedly empowered that a simple majority is enough to remove an elected Prime Minister. The Constitution thus legalises the establishment of a perpetually weak Iraqi state, open to repetitive manipulation by forces both internal and external.

    Finally, Iraqi leaders have the onerous task of establishing a capable national army, not a sectarian amalgamation of militias which is prone to manipulation by the Americans or their Iranian rivals.

    Unless a strong state, premised on the rule of law, human rights and a credible military force emerges, Iraq is doomed to endure the ravages of a semi-colonial existence, which can be combated only by a second and more vicious wave of resistance.
     
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  3. VersusAllOdds

    VersusAllOdds Regular Member

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    Answer to the question: unreal.
     
  4. civfanatic

    civfanatic Retired Moderator

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    Even if the US withdraws its troops, a US-backed puppet government will continue to rule Iraq for many years.
     
  5. Tshering22

    Tshering22 Sikkimese Saber Senior Member

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    How real? Pretty real to the common public. The visible front of thousands of troops are leaving.. the U.S. didn't state who exactly is withdrawing; the troops or the intelligence community. While troops are going to be out in no time, intel community will remain there, giving feedback of Iraqi developments. This is very important as Saudi is turning more and more hostile towards American bases with radicals (which is 99.9% of Saudi Arabia's citizens) being opposed to American bases in their country. The wealth seems to be going into their heads and therefore to make it easier, Iraq still is a better bargain rather than maintaining an expensive stay in Saudi.
     
  6. ejazr

    ejazr Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    ^^^The US does not have any bases in Saudi Arabia. The main threat perception for the US is Iran and Russia not Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia is a very crucial partner to the US. Read up on Saudi Arabia before making blanket judgements, and preferably from some good books rather than from amateur blogs.
     
  7. VersusAllOdds

    VersusAllOdds Regular Member

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    Well those Saudis can oppose and do nothing else. They live in a feudal society, where voice of an individual means little.
    I have a very low opinion of all those Saudi sheikhs and Sultans and Kings and what not... On one side they support Islamic rebellions and insurgency all over the world (Chechenia, Kosovo, Bosnia, where not?), on the other they sell themselves to US for oil money. Then they want to look like honest Muslims, with strong faith in Allah, but they live a hedonist life, and posses vast amounts of wealth no human being needs while their "fellow" Muslims suffer in millions all over the world. Truely, I despise such hipocricy, greed and gluttony.

    Back to the topic: the word combat in sentence "withdrawal of combat troops" should not be interpreted lightly. Combat troops are only those that had a job of defeating Saddam's army. Those that are occupying Iraq, guarding civilians (of course, not the Iraqi civilians, such troops don't exist) will stay. I doubt Blackwater will ever withdraw from the oil wells they guard - at least not before they run out of oil...
     
  8. sayareakd

    sayareakd Moderator Moderator

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    First of all i want to say is. "US has saved Iraq by destroying it". Second is they are never going to withdraw from country for which they have spend so much money and blood, more so when lot of oil is being exported by Iraq.

    Private contractors (paid mercenary, who are illegal as per international law) will play US game, without any accountability.
     
  9. sob

    sob Moderator Moderator

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    President Obama was on a single point agenda during his election campaign and he has fulfilled that pledge of withdrawing from Iraq. 50,000 Us troops will remain behind to "train Iraqi troops" but what will be their role remains in doubt.
    Today Iraq is sharply divided into 3 ethnic religous groups and between them there is no leader of stature to run the country.

    Only the perceived threat from Iran will keep the US and Saudi interests aligned for the near future.
     
  10. Tshering22

    Tshering22 Sikkimese Saber Senior Member

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    I would recommend you to check your sources again. US does have bases in Saudi and that is the reason why Saudi hardliners are resentful towards Westerners in general. There's a base something like Daharan or something by name which is shared but managed by USAF. Knowing Saudi-US ties, I am sure you will agree about disputing how much 'shared' and how much 'owned' it is.


    I am not quite an amateur as you would think judging me by the number of posts I make. The US has bases in 3 predominant countries of Middle East: Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Bahrain while Kuwait shields a common NATO base that too which is mainly used by US (quite logical). Also, France has an air force base in United Arab Emirates.
     
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2010
  11. sesha_maruthi27

    sesha_maruthi27 Senior Member Senior Member

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    This was and is a tactical and profitable move made by America for its dependency and reqirement of oil. The whole scene of capturing Saddam Hussain is a staged drama by the U.S. for taking control of the Iraq's oil reserves.
     
  12. ejazr

    ejazr Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    Before the Iraq war CENTCOM forward HQ were in Saudi Arabia in KKMC(King Khaled Military Complex). This was all a legacy of the Cold War as well as the 1st Iraq war where US forces landed in Saudi Arabia to liberate Kuwait along with about 40 other countries in 1992.During the second Iraq war, Saudi facilities were used to co-ordinate the war on the condition that US will withdraw forces and remove CENTCOM forward HQ from Saudi soil.

    I have lived in Dhahran and I know that Dhahran has a Air Force base run by Saudi Air Force and they probably do have American trainers and possibly even some rest and refuel facilities as well. So if you are very pedantic, yes American military forces are probably still present. But the numbers are insignificant, espicially as compared to pre-2005 era where US personnel were quite visible and had extensive presence. The CENTCOM forward HQ has also been moved to Doha Qatar. You also see British and French trainers and military personnel as well. But none of them are visible as they used to be pre-2005. The US will be unable to use Saudi Arabia as a launch pad for co-ordinating attacks like it was able to in the 1st and 2ns Iraq war. Even the Afghan theatre is basically run out of Doha now.

    On the resentment of American military presence, yes defintely there is that. There is feeling that why should Saudi soil be used to attack Iraq or other countires in the neighbourhood just for the sake of America. Which is understandable. Would we as Indians allow the US to setup military bases and attack China, Bangladesh or even Pakistan knowing that the retaliation would be on Indian not US soil? So just resenting this would not make someone extremist or fanatic.

    The one thing that has happened post 2005 is King Abdulla taking over the leadership of Saudi Arabia. He has done a worthwile job in turning around the extremist, detoxing the extrmists politico-religious views fed during the anti-Soviet years and basically transforming the society slowly but surely.

    If Pakistan even did half the what the Saudis have done in terms of discrediting extremist ideology, rehabilitatting extremists as well as redoing their entire syllabus and education system particularly womens e.t.c., Pakistan would not be in the mess that it is today.

    To get a good overall understanding of SA a nice book I found was Robert Lacey's Inside the Kingdom.
    If interested a good perspective on day to day affairs of Saudi Arabia by a former American Foreign service officer is this blog Crossroads Arabia
     
  13. neo29

    neo29 Senior Member Senior Member

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    US have invaded. Ousted the Bath party and Saddam. Installed its own dummy government. End of story. They dont need to be there. The believe the insurgency should be taken care of Iraqis. But surely US forces will be stationed in Kuwait to make sure their Iraqi Government survives.
     
  14. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    If one has read **** Cheney’s Defence Policy Guidelines, when he was the Secretary of Defence that he had authored with his NeoCon advisors, many of whom were later in the Bush Administration, one would have observed that it indicated a paradigm shift from the Cold War uni-thrust doctrine to a shift to a multipolar conflict paradigm and that too in areas of US strategic interests, namely the Middle East (where there was the oil to power US industrial and military infrastructure) and South East Asia. He also authored the National Energy Policy where he emphasised it was absolute essential to ensure an uninterrupted energy flow from areas where US obtained oil and gas. Both the documents indicated that it was essential to sanitise the Middle East and make it a preserve of the US and also encouraged that the US should be more involved in the CAR gas and oil fields since the deposits were large and were practically unexploited.

    From these the Iraq and Iran issues emerged at a later date and semantics like ‘axis of evil’ and ‘bringing freedom and democracy’ were given great publicity to justify the invasion of Iraq and the isolation of Iran. It maybe added that both Iraq and Iran gave the US (more correctly the Bush – Cheney Administration) the necessary ‘morality’ (sic)!

    Immense amount of money has been spent by the US and many Americans have died in this quest. Therefore, would the US quit totally? If the US quits, then the whole exercise would be in vain. Therefore, having removed the problematic Saddam, it will be the US’ endeavour to cease the combat role and instead keep a sizeable level of force in Iraq as a ’military assistance and training group’. It maybe mentioned that the Cheney Guidelines also mentioned that it was necessary to maintain bases in troubled areas so as to allow quick reaction instead of hauling troops and war materiel from Continental US. It will be recalled that it took a real long time for the US invasion force to concentrate in the Middle East against Saddam’s Iraq. It will be observed that Iraq is the centre of the Middle East and surrounded by most nations of the Middle East and so reaction by US forces stationed there will be speedy to any Middle East nation that the US finds inimical.

    Likewise, Afghanistan is important to the US strategic interests. It is the cockpit, so to say, of Asia, from where one could influence not only South Asia, but also Iran, the CAR nations and even China. Pakistan is also an important cog in this perception, but it is an unreliable ally. Thus, Afghanistan catapults into importance.

    Net net, the US may quit Iraq and Afghanistan, but it will ensure that it has a sizeable presence in both these countries so that their influence over the political, military, strategic going ons do not get jeopardised.
     
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2010
  15. thakur_ritesh

    thakur_ritesh Administrator Administrator

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    Sir,

    where does india fit into all this and what if india was to take a role contrary to what the US would have thought out. please do highlight. thanks.
     

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