December 20, 2010

THE WAR HAVING BEEN WON, WHY WOULD SHIASTAN OR KURDISTAN NEED US?:

Politics in Iraq Casts Doubt on a U.S. Presence After 2011 (Steven Lee Myers, Thom Shanker and Jack Healy, 12/18/10, NY Times)

After parliamentary elections in March led to a protracted period of deadlock and deal-making, Mr. Maliki now leads an unwieldy coalition with parties pursuing conflicting agendas, including lawmakers allied with Moktada al-Sadr, a Shiite cleric in exile whose fighters actively battled against American and Iraqi forces until they were routed in 2008.

Their new partnership, which propelled Mr. Maliki’s nomination to a second term, will make it politically risky for him to now reverse himself. Even Ayad Allawi, the leader of a multisectarian bloc who has long been supportive of the Americans, said in an interview last week that there was not yet any consensus among Iraqi leaders to request an extension of the American military presence.

A growing confidence in Iraq’s security forces, coupled with national pride, has also become a factor. Mr. Maliki and others have adamantly ruled out the need for foreign troops to help the country protect itself.

That may reflect a degree of political posturing, but officials in both militaries point to the maturing capabilities of Iraq’s army and federal police, which now conduct day-to-day security without a great deal of direct American involvement.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Defense, Maj. Gen. Mohammed al-Askari, said in an interview that the American military role in Iraq “must take another shape,” providing training and weaponry, but not necessarily American boots on the ground.

“We are different than Afghanistan,” the general said, noting the comparative maturity of Iraq’s government ministries, including those overseeing security.


Thanks, W.

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Posted by Orrin Judd at December 20, 2010 5:17 AM
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