Friday, June 26, 2009

"Iraq is like a baby right now"

In the London Times:

Iraqis have second thoughts over June 30 date for US troops to leave

For six years Iraqis in this restless provincial capital have been waiting for US forces to withdraw, in the hope that the area will return to being Iraq’s sleepy rural backwater.

However, with only days to go before the last American soldiers are due to pull out of Baquba and other Iraqi cities, the residentshaving doubts.

There are fears that a premature departure will lead to a return of sectarian violence or allow al-Qaeda to re-establish itself. Many would like the Americans to remain until security is restored permanently.

“After you guys pull out from the city I don’t know what our enemies are going to do,Thaban Hassan said. The head of an Iraqi Army battalion in Baquba, he told the American soldiers gathered in his office that “safety is not 100 per cent . . . why are the Americans leaving?”

Remembering what happened after our abandonment of Vietnam … It would be a shame to see Iraq's new democracy torn to pieces by a power struggle among terrorists and despots, leading to another dictatorship or mullahcracy. Democracy is a thing previously unknown to the region.

In the past few days a bomb hit a mayor’s convoy, another hit an Iraqi army patrol and there was a revenge killing of an al-Qaeda militant.

In line with the status of forces agreement between the US and Iraqi governments, which came into effect at the beginning of this year, all US troops will cease patrolling Iraqi cities from June 30.

Despite the spike in violence Mr al-Maliki has insisted that the withdrawal will go ahead as planned.

Colonel Thompson called this insistence political and said that he would prefer to keep US soldiers in Diyala province, which remains a hub for insurgents coming into the country, until after elections next January.

That view is shared by residents. Dhea Taha, 32, who lives with her children near Baquba, said: “The security situation is not stable in the first place ... there is an increase in terrorist activity.”

Mohammad al-Obeidi, the chairman of the Security Council of Qais and Khalis, areas of Baquba which still have sectarian tensions, said that Mr al-Maliki’s reassurances did not ease concerns.

“Iraq is like a baby right now," he said. "It needs people to look after it.”

Update: Jay Nordlinger on Iraq:

There are many, many Americans — including most of official Washington — who are heavily invested in opposition to the Iraq War. They think it was a mistake, even a crime. They think the war was an impossible task. They think that no good can come of it. So, if good — much, much good — does come of it: Who will be around — who will be willing — to say, “Hurray! Well done! This was a fine American hour, a boon to ourselves and others”?

Do you know what I mean? An astounding victory, an astounding achievement, could be swept under the rug, because of the bitterness, inflexibility, and embarrassment of countless American elites.

Last fall, Ryan Crocker, then our ambassador in Baghdad, told a group of us the following — this was at the end of our discussion, when I asked whether there was anything else he wanted to say:

“Iraq is really, really important. How things go here will transform the region and America’s role in the region, one way or the other. If Iraq is successful in establishing itself as a democracy, where the rule of law is paramount, that will be something remarkable for the region. . . .

“People are tired of Iraq. They say, ‘Let’s get it over and done with. We don’t want to watch the Iraq movie anymore.’ But the Iraq movie will go on for many more reels, with or without us. And it will have a big effect on us, whether we like it or not.”

Funny, but we don’t seem to be watching the Iraq movie much at the moment, do we? Is it because George W. Bush is in Texas?
Another story: As U.S. troops move on, Iraqis fear the coming turmoil.

No comments: