Iraq: Withdrawal of U.S. Troops by End of 2011

Posted: December 18, 2011 in International
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By the end of the year, all the remaining U.S. troops stationed in Iraq will be pulled out. This is after America’s eight years of repeated attempts to try to stabilize the country. This raises the question: what will the new year be like for Iraq?

Indeed, the Americans were certainly not universally loved or welcomed by all and we have witnessed Iraq being washed down the mighty river. But, at least the Americans were able to prevent extreme conflicts and battles between religious or ethnic groups. The Americans were always the mediators.

Iraq, a multi-ethnic state, is in the grip of struggles for power and influence between Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds. The government in Baghdad is not in a position to govern the country, let alone ward off influences from the outside. Prime Minister al-Maliki, a Shiite, tries hard to strengthen and expand the sphere of influence of his Shiites.

After the last election and a long period of political deadlocks within the Parliament, he has won more and more important offices for Shiites.

This development doesn`t bring pleasure to neither the Sunnis nor the Kurds. The Kurds in December 2010 still stood behind al-Maliki, but they now seem to have recognized the stark reality. The promised concessions al-Maliki made during his campaign have not transpired.

To the contrary, al-Maliki and the Shiite block, much to the dismay of the Kurds, are trying instead to limit their power. In recent times, bloody clashes between Shiites and Kurds have occurred repeatedly and threats of the continuation of these clashes are thwarted by the American soldiers still stationed there.

What future awaits Mesopotamia?

The future outlook is most questionable. But, one must not forget that the world’s largest American Embassy in Baghdad still stands. Even when the soldiers pull out of Iraq, there is still a massive presence in Bagdad of diplomatic corps and security personnel.

After all the alleged efforts of the American liberation and democratization of Iraq, Iraq is neither democratic nor sovereign. Over these last eight years, the Americans more or less conspicuously interfered in the democratic processes with resulting corruption becoming rife and endemic and foreign forces exerting their influence over Iraq.

So what does the future bring for Iraq? It brings an uncertain new year with fears of escalating fighting and attacks between Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds. The ability of Iraq to continue to exist as a sovereign nation is contingent upon how it is going to be able to deal with or prevent further civil war.

An escalation of civil war in Iraq will result in the country breaking into three mini-states, thereby affecting the entire region. With the West supporting instability in Syria, it is indeed supporting the demise of the only country in the Levant which supports secularism and inter-ethnic stability and this is indeed very troubling.

With the American combat troops out of Iraq, will the race between Iran and Saudi Arabia gain a new impetus? All the events in recent months and indeed years show us that the struggle has been between Sunni and Shiites. Thus we see that the common denominator is the race for dominance by either Iran or Saudi Arabia.

Given this, the protection of Israel and Western interests are pitted against the interests of the Arab world and the East. The Cold War still exists, but the known Cold War involves many more parties in these days – voluntary or involuntary.

Thus far, the “Arab Spring”, with its international endorsement, seems to not have had any repercussions in Iraq. Whether this is a good or bad sign remains to be seen. Is there fire smoldering under the ashes? We don’t know. All we have to do is look at Libya – where on the surface things are quiet after the assassination of Muammar Gaddafi and the capture of his son Saif al-Islam Gaddafi.

Nonetheless, al-Qaida militants are still roaming the streets. But, events of this nature are never reported and in fact are deliberately concealed. This makes one question whether the same is happening in Iraq.

It is easy to turn a deaf ear and a blind eye to the ethnic/sectarian divisions between Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds. The situation of Christians is ignored. The US led invasion of Iraq has totally decimated Iraqi Christians and little, if any reports are made of this. If anything, the situation of the few Christians left behind is likely to get a lot worse after the American withdrawal.

The upcoming year 2012 promises nothing good for Iraq. The situation will only get worse. To hope for a better year for Iraq is mere wishful thinking.

Image: busja /


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