Iraq, U.S. See The Future Differently

Iraq, U.S. See The Future Differently
March 19th, 2009  
Team Infidel

Topic: Iraq, U.S. See The Future Differently

Iraq, U.S. See The Future Differently
Houston Chronicle
March 19, 2009
6 years after invasion, Baghdad says war is far from over
By Nancy A. Youssef, McClatchy Newspapers
WASHINGTON — Six years after the U.S. invaded Iraq, Americans and Iraqis for the first time have starkly different views about the country’s future. Americans are ready to close the book on the war, but Iraqis say the story is far from over.
As the war enters its seventh year this week, Americans are winding down their military presence. Violence, while not over, it is at its lowest levels since the war began, and Iraqi forces, U.S. officials say, are better able than ever to secure their nation. The U.S. and Iraq have agreed that most U.S. troops must withdraw by the end of 2011.
Iraqis, however, worry that their war may be just beginning. January’s provincial elections stoked tensions between Sunni Muslim Arabs and Kurds in northern Iraq that could spill over into central Iraq. It’s not clear how Iraqi forces will conduct themselves once their American counterparts have left the battlefield. And Iraq is unable to secure its border with Iran, Turkey and its neighboring Arab states.
Reducing U.S. military
Which version of the story prevails in the next year will determine the pace of the U.S. troop withdrawal and what kind of Iraq will be left behind.
The U.S. expects this year to reduce its presence in Iraq by two brigades to 12, or approximately 120,000 combat troops from 138,000. Marine Corps commandant Gen. James T. Conway has called for transferring Marines to Afghanistan from Iraq’s once restive Anbar province.
In Iraq, though, most people worry that with the departure of the U.S. military, which many consider a necessary evil, violence will shoot up once again.
Iraq’s army and police are still fledgling forces backed by the U.S., and political parties, dueling ethnic groups and rival branches of Islam are vying for power .
Iraqis — and some U.S. military and intelligence officers and diplomats — think that different factions are counting the days until the Americans leave, aware that Iraqi forces aren’t strong enough to fend off major violence. Iraqi forces still lack air power or sufficient logistical support and struggle to unite under a fractious government. Iraqi forces have turned to their American allies in the face of major battles.
“The situation in Iraq will improve only if the Americans and the Iraqi politicians withdraw from Iraq,” said Abbas al-Dulaimy, 31, as he walked through Baghdad.
“The situation will soon be worse because the politicians will look out only for their interests like those who demand to divide Iraq … it will be chaos.”
First test in June
The status of forces agreement between the Iraqi and U.S. governments signed late last year will reduce boots on the ground as well as U.S. influence on Iraqi matters. The first major test comes in June, when U.S. troops are to withdraw from Iraqi cities.
Americans may assume that once forces leave, the U.S. military will no longer be responsible for what happens in Iraq. Many Iraqis think, however, that the U.S. hasn’t prepared their nation to secure itself.
“The Iraqi army and police can’t achieve stability in Iraq when the Americans withdraw unless the Americans correct the matter,” said Usama al-Najafi, a Sunni parliament member from the secular Iraqi National List, referring to corruption and sectarian and party loyalties within the security forces.

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