We’ll leave when we decide

The ongoing debate about the US withdrawal from Iraq continues with the noticeable absence of the Iraqi people. In May, a majority of Iraq’s parliament signed a bill calling for the withdrawal of US occupation troops, which was predictably ignored on the grounds that Maliki opposed this position.

The facade of this convenient excuse however is fading, with Maliki openly inviting US troops to leave.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said Saturday that the Iraqi army and police are capable of keeping security in the country when American troops leave “any time they want,” though he acknowledged the forces need further weapons and training.

What is not yet clear is where the pressure came from that led to this departure from the script. Is it the disintegration of the Iraqi government with the threats from Sadr and Sunni leaders or is this a token gesture to the Bush administration, by attempting to take the sting out of an otherwise abysmal progress report?

The embattled prime minister sought to show confidence at a time when pressure in the U.S. Congress is growing for a withdrawal and the Bush administration reported little progress had been made on the most vital of a series of political reforms it wants al-Maliki to carry out.

The pressure for troop withdrawal is not being helped by the almost daily revelations now being made about the brutality and war crimes of US troops meted out to the Iraqi population.

Pressure to withdraw grows by the day. With Washington’s puppets in Baghdad in such a tenuous position, and the revelation that most of the foreign fighters are originating from Saudi Arabia (and not Iran/Syria), Bush risks exposing his real reasons for wanting to maintain US troops in Iraq.

Text and images ©2024 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

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