Tuesday, December 13, 2005
US and UK want to "cut and run" in Iraq
BRITAIN and America are planning a phased withdrawal of their forces from Iraq as soon as a permanent government is installed in Baghdad after this week's elections.
...a move that has caused alarm in the outgoing Iraqi administration...
...appear to run contrary to statements by President Bush...
...Foshyar Zebari, the Iraqi Foreign Minister: "Those who advocate an early withdrawal do not know what is at stake....The fate of this country and the whole region could be endangered...
Here are the numbers.
America has more than 160,000 troops...Britain about 8,000
plans are already in place for the small British contingents in the two provinces of Dhiqar and Muthana to go as early as the spring.
The Americans...are planning to pull out 30,000 by the new year and may reduce their presence below 100,000 in the coming months.
The current Iraqi leaders are not so thrilled about this. They see it as it is, they fear that Washington and London are growing weary of the bloody and costly commitment to Iraq. They make this clear:
Zebari: "The huge investment in blood and money sacrificed by the US could be squandered...There would be regional interventions by neighbouring countries and others."
Iraqi leaders fear that a premature withdrawal of foreign forces could encourage the rise of militias, leading to sectarian strife and the settling of old scores.
They know their 225,000 Iraqi soldiers and police who have now been trained for active duty in truth are mainly a bunch of unemployeed men (60% unemployement in Iraq) that have gone for a month of training and a come home with a uniform and a weapon. They know this is no secuity force that can maintain a federal government. No, I imagine they look at the current state of Aghanistan and see what is in store.
Maybe they should take a page from the US paybook and use religious fundementalism to pull the country together. And I don't think people will be arguing over "Merry Christmas" in Iraq any time soon. I still think this prospect will make Saudi Arabia and our oil very nervous.
The US seems to have blown this one real bad.