U.S. Troops Not Leaving Iraq Soon

October 25th, 2005  
Team Infidel

Topic: U.S. Troops Not Leaving Iraq Soon

By BETH GARDINER - Associated Press Writer
LONDON - (AP) Continuing violence and instability are likely to
force President Bush's successor to keep large numbers of troops in Iraq,
despite the recent passage of the Iraqi constitution in a referendum and
other political progress, a leading military think thank said Tuesday.
Patrick Cronin, director of studies at the International Institute
for Strategic Studies, said many U.S. troops would probably have to remain
in Iraq until well after the U.S. presidential elections in 2008.
"We're likely to see continued bloodshed and instability inside
Iraq," Cronin said at a news conference where the institute issued its
annual report on the world's military forces.
"This is a long-term proposition, and I would expect the next U.S.
administration to have forces inside Iraq at a fairly large number for some
years to come."
Cronin gave no figures on the force levels he thought likely. There
are now about 159,000 U.S. troops in Iraq.
Last week, the commander of U.S. forces in Baghdad said it will take
up to two years for the Iraqi army to have the military leadership and
supplies it needs to operate on its own.
Maj. Gen. William G. Webster Jr. did not specify what impact his
assessment would have on U.S. hopes for beginning a withdrawal of American
troops from Iraq.
Earlier this year, U.S. military officials said they thought they
could begin fairly substantial troop withdrawals next spring. But amid
ongoing questions about the Iraqi army's training, they have since scaled
back that prediction, saying some troop reductions are possible in 2006 but
that any withdrawal will be based on conditions in Iraq.
While the high turnout for Iraq's constitutional referendum was
encouraging, U.S. efforts to train Iraqi forces to take over security duties
are moving slowly, the institute said. The charter received nearly 80
percent of the vote nationwide, and opponents didn't muster the two-thirds
"no" vote they would have needed in at least three provinces to defeat it.
The institute's analysts also said they were pessimistic on the
standoff between Iran and the West over Tehran's nuclear program.
"It's difficult to find a resolution in the positions of the two
sides," said John Chipman, the institute's director.
Iran may try to slow a resolution by offering to return to
negotiations, perhaps trying to involve a sympathetic nation such as South
Africa, he said.
Britain, France and Germany would find it difficult to go back to
the table following Iran's decision to end the talks, Chipman said. However,
he said Iran probably would not have the capability to build nuclear weapons
until the end of this decade at the soonest, so diplomacy has time to play
out, he said.
Iran denies having any intention to develop nuclear weapons.

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