Friday, August 13, 2010

Iraq: Invading Is Easier Than Leaving

There are remarkably few positive things to say about Iraq today. The country seems to be in perpetual upheaval since the U.S. invasion in 2003. Dozens of people were killed across Iraq just days ahead of the start of the holy month of Ramadan, and more will probably lose their lives in the coming few days when insurgents typically step up their attacks. Yet the Obama administration has recently announced that the U.S. is "on target to end the combat mission." The U.S. government plans to withdraw its combat troops by the end of August and to remove all troops by the end of 2011.

But Iraq's most senior military officer, Lieutenant General Babaker Zebari, said that his forces, particularly the air force, were not ready to take over, cautioning that his security forces will not be able to secure the country until 2020.

The country has been facing many domestic challenges, such as a period of Sunni Arab insurgency, bloody attacks by al-Qaeda, confrontations with al-Sadr militias, and the ongoing tensions between various political factions; however, it's Iraq's vulnerability to neighboring countries that Zebari was alluding to.

"If America withdraws its forces and one of the neighboring countries causes problems, then we're going to have a problem," Zebari said.



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