Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
DOUBLE YOUR DONATION!
We don’t run corporate ads. We don’t shake our readers down for money every month or every quarter like some other sites out there. We provide our site for free to all, but the bandwidth we pay to do so doesn’t come cheap. A generous donor is matching all donations of $100 or more! So please donate now to double your punch!
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

US out of Iraq by … "2011"

The United States is moving towards ending its military control of Iraq by agreeing to withdraw combat troops from Iraqi cities and towns by June next year and from the rest of Iraq by 2011, according Iraqi and American negotiators.

The withdrawal of US troops to bases outside the cities, towns and villages would make the Iraqi government, whose security forces number half a million men, the predominant military power in Iraq for the first time since the US-led invasion of 2003.

“By June 2009, if security progress continues, there would be no need for US troops in city centers,” the Iraqi Foreign Minister, Hoshyar Zebari, tells me.

Mr Zebari was eager Thursday not to describe the US military pullback as a withdrawal and it might still be rejected by senior Iraqi political leaders. But in reality the US is accepting a timetable for a withdrawal, something that it resolutely refused to do in the past. Mr Maliki originally wanted the removal of US combat troops by the end of 2010, but has compromised on 2011.

The accord is likely to have a significant impact on the outcome of the US presidential election in November since Iraq is the main issue dividing the two candidates. It should benefit the Democratic candidate Barack Obama since the timetable for a withdrawal is not so different from his plan to remove one combat brigade a month over 16 months. It also makes it difficult for the Republican contender John McCain to say that US troops should stay until victory or to denounce Mr Obama as an unpatriotic defeatist. At the same time Mr McCain may benefit from the security agreement defusing the Iraq war as a political issue in the US and making it more difficult for the Democrats to portray him as a dangerous hawk.

The agreement now likely to be signed is “a sea-change from what the Americans originally proposed in March” according to an Iraqi political leader who saw a recent version. He said Mr Maliki would like to see US forces pull back into about 20 bases and they would not have an automatic right to patrol within Iraqi cities and towns. This means that the US will not be able to support its local allies, such as the Sunni 103,000-strong al-Sahwa Awakening Movement which is paid by the US but hostile to the Shia-Kurdish government.

The original US draft for a security agreement to replace the UN mandate which runs out at the end of the year appeared to continue the American occupation. When its terms were leaked in June there was a nationalist backlash against its terms in Iraq. This coincided with the Iraqi army regaining control of Basra, Sadr City and the province of Amara, which had previously been under the control of Shia militias, notably the Mehdi Army of Muqtada al-Sadr. The growing confidence of the Iraqi army that it can act without US military back up has made it possible for Mr Maliki to demand more limitations on US authority.

Iraqi negotiators have been eager to end the legal immunity of US forces. Washington has conceded that private security contractors, of whom 35,000 out of 154,000 are armed security personnel, should no longer have immunity on or off US bases. This is an important change because the private contractors outnumber US troops and play a crucial support role. They are also widely detested by Iraqis because of their ill-discipline and involvement in incidents when innocent Iraqi civilians have been killed.

The US has been determined to preserve the legal immunity of its regular armed forces. According to one Iraqi negotiator, US soldiers will have immunity in their bases and when engaged in official missions, but if they engage in premeditated crimes outside their official role and off-base then a US-Iraqi committee will decide how they should be dealt with.

The Iraqi government has gone out of its way to reassure Iran that the US will not be able to use Iraq as base for any attack on Iran. Iran reacted furiously to the first draft of the accord, claiming it would turn Iraq into a US puppet state and, so far as the Iranians were concerned, it would be ‘an insecurity agreement and not a security agreement.’ Standing beside the US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice at a press conference, Mr Zebari said: “There are clear articles [in the agreement that] say that Iraq will not be used as a launching pad for any aggressive acts against neighboring countries.”

PATRICK COCKBURN is the Ihe author of “Muqtada: Muqtada Al-Sadr, the Shia Revival, and the Struggle for Iraq.

 

Your Ad Here

 

 

 

 

 

More articles by:

Patrick Cockburn is the author of  The Rise of Islamic State: ISIS and the New Sunni Revolution.

October 23, 2018
Patrick Cockburn
The Middle East, Not Russia, Will Prove Trump’s Downfall
Ipek S. Burnett
The Assault on The New Colossus: Trump’s Threat to Close the U.S.-Mexican Border
Mary Troy Johnston
The War on Terror is the Reign of Terror
Maximilian Werner
The Rhetoric and Reality of Death by Grizzly
David Macaray
Teamsters, Hells Angels, and Self-Determination
Jeffrey Sommers
“No People, Big Problem”: Democracy and Its Discontents In Latvia
Dean Baker
Looking for the Next Crisis: the Not Very Scary World of CLOs
Binoy Kampmark
Leaking for Change: ASIO, Jakarta, and Australia’s Jerusalem Problem
Chris Wright
The Necessity of “Lesser-Evil” Voting
Muhammad Othman
Daunting Challenge for Activists: The Cook Customer “Connection”
Don Fitz
A Debate for Auditor: What the Papers Wouldn’t Say
October 22, 2018
Henry Giroux
Neoliberalism in the Age of Pedagogical Terrorism
Melvin Goodman
Washington’s Latest Cold War Maneuver: Pulling Out of the INF
David Mattson
Basket of Deplorables Revisited: Grizzly Bears at the Mercy of Wyoming
Michelle Renee Matisons
Hurricane War Zone Further Immiserates Florida Panhandle, Panama City
Tom Gill
A Storm is Brewing in Europe: Italy and Its Public Finances Are at the Center of It
Suyapa Portillo Villeda
An Illegitimate, US-Backed Regime is Fueling the Honduran Refugee Crisis
Christopher Brauchli
The Liars’ Bench
Gary Leupp
Will Trump Split the World by Endorsing a Bold-Faced Lie?
Michael Howard
The New York Times’ Animal Cruelty Fetish
Alice Slater
Time Out for Nukes!
Geoff Dutton
Yes, Virginia, There are Conspiracies—I Think
Daniel Warner
Davos in the Desert: To Attend or Not, That is Not the Question
Priti Gulati Cox – Stan Cox
Mothers of Exiles: For Many, the Child-Separation Ordeal May Never End
Manuel E. Yepe
Pence v. China: Cold War 2.0 May Have Just Begun
Raouf Halaby
Of Pith Helmets and Sartorial Colonialism
Dan Carey
Aspirational Goals  
Wim Laven
Intentional or Incompetence—Voter Suppression Where We Live
Weekend Edition
October 19, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Jason Hirthler
The Pieties of the Liberal Class
Jeffrey St. Clair
A Day in My Life at CounterPunch
Paul Street
“Male Energy,” Authoritarian Whiteness and Creeping Fascism in the Age of Trump
Nick Pemberton
Reflections on Chomsky’s Voting Strategy: Why The Democratic Party Can’t Be Saved
John Davis
The Last History of the United States
Yigal Bronner
The Road to Khan al-Akhmar
Robert Hunziker
The Negan Syndrome
Andrew Levine
Democrats Ahead: Progressives Beware
Rannie Amiri
There is No “Proxy War” in Yemen
David Rosen
America’s Lost Souls: the 21st Century Lumpen-Proletariat?
Joseph Natoli
The Age of Misrepresentations
Ron Jacobs
History Is Not Kind
John Laforge
White House Radiation: Weakened Regulations Would Save Industry Billions
Ramzy Baroud
The UN ‘Sheriff’: Nikki Haley Elevated Israel, Damaged US Standing
Robert Fantina
Trump, Human Rights and the Middle East
Anthony Pahnke – Jim Goodman
NAFTA 2.0 Will Help Corporations More Than Farmers
Jill Richardson
Identity Crisis: Elizabeth Warren’s Claims Cherokee Heritage
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail