Will Iraq Be Obama's Gift To Iran?
What Happened and WHY It Happened
President Barack Obama announced Friday, October 21, 2011, that the remaining thirty-nine thousand troops will leave Iraq at the end of the year. But, again, the MSM did not report on WHY Obama is withdrawing troops. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki made clear that it was Iraq who refused to let the U.S. military remain under America’s terms. “When the Americans asked for [troop] immunity, the Iraqi side answered that it was not possible.” Maliki, a Shiite, has the political backing of anti-American Shiite cleric Muqtada Sadr‘s forty representatives in Iraq’s parliament who have demanded all U.S. troops leave. Maliki knows his partnership with Sadr has been blessed by Iran, and that making a deal with Iraqiya would lose the Sadrists, enrage Iran, and risk the possibility of eventual betrayal by Iraqiya.
The Obama administration insisted that the Iraqi Council of Representatives endorse the troop immunity deal, a political impossibility. So, Obama, after Iraq’s prime minister said “no” to America, announced that the Iraq war was over and that troops will be leaving by year’s end. Deputy National Security Advisor Dennis McDonough said Iraq is “secure, stable, and self-reliant.” It is none of these things. Its government is not capable of defending itself from Iran in the air or on the ground. Iraq does not possess a ready and equipped air force, or an effective intelligence apparatus.
The Obama administration, BTW, is talking out of both sides of its mouth on Iraq. It says the withdrawal is one of President Obama’s campaign promises, It also says that this is all the Iraqis’ fault, that Obama wanted to maintain troops on the ground after 2011, but the Iraqis wouldn’t accede to his wishes.
Handing Iraq To Iran
The U.S. is handing the Iranians a goal they have sought for years, to remove us from Iraq so Iran can increase its influence for its ends. It once seemed that Iraq could be a strategic ally and base for our influence in the Middle East, but it now may become both things for Iran. Iran’s militias were already active in Iraq. Now, it can use Iraq for bases for its proxy forces to spread its influence to the rest of the Persian Gulf. Political decisions will begin to go more and more Iran’s way as Iraq’s and Iran’s Shiite majority will continue to influence politics. The Iraqi government is quite sectarian, favoring the Shiites, and has thrown itself toward Shiite Iran. Indeed, even Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is Shiite.
U.S. troops withdrawal will most hurt Iraq’s Counter-Terrorism Force. The Counter-Terrorism Force benefited from a long-standing partnership with U.S. special forces. For al-Qaeda-inspired groups or Shiite extremists wishing to destabilize the Iraqi government, Iraq’s loss of such training is indeed welcomed.
What Do Iraqis Think?
Seventy Three percent of Iraqis said they believe it is likely Iran will act aggressively after U.S. troops leave. Fifty One percent said they believe the security situation within Iraq will get worse when the U.S. forces leave. Thirty One percent said they were confident Iraqi forces could protect the Iraqi population from terrorist attacks. The survey, conducted by YouGov-Cambridge, interviewed 505 Iraqis from July 12-27, 2011.
What Does Hillary Clinton Think?
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned Iran not to view the withdrawal of U.S. combat troops from Iraq as an opportunity to try to build its influence in the country. “No one, most particularly Iran, should miscalculate about our continuing commitment to and with the Iraqis going forward,” said Clinton. As American troops prepare to leave Iraq, Clinton issued a warning to Iran, saying the U.S. will continue to have a presence in the region to assist Iraq as a “partner country” into the future.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad responded, “I think this is going to be a very good idea, and we should have done it sooner, maybe seven or eight years ago, and they would avoid killing so many Iraqi people or Americans, as well. I think they should have done it much earlier.” Ahmadinejad stated that “the government of Iraq, the parliament, we have a very good relationship with all of them … and we have deepened our ties day by day.”
What Does the Military Say?
Gen. Lloyd Austin, U.S. Commander in Iraq, says that without a secure, orderly transition, U.S. successes have been put at risk. Politics does not tolerate a vacuum. Iran’s ability to meddle in Iraqi politics has soared with the announced U.S. withdrawal.
U.S. commanders in Iraq say they believe Iraqi security forces have been trained well enough to defend the country against external threats, but continuing sectarian violence and the threat of Iranian intervention raises questions about the future stability of Iraq.