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Ear to the Ground

No, Thank You—Don’t Come Again

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Posted on Sep 11, 2011
Illustration by Alexander Augst

Moqtada al-Sadr, who is either the sharpest thorn in the side of U.S. forces in Iraq or the linchpin of an Iraqi parliament frequently on the verge of coming apart—or both—has ordered his followers not to attack U.S. troops in order to make sure the occupiers leave as quickly as possible.

The U.S. military is officially unwelcome in Iraq after Dec. 31, but there are negotiations aimed at allowing some troops to remain for an additional period. If that happens, al-Sadr says his “military operations will be resumed in a new and tougher way.”

The Guardian:

In a statement posted on his website, the Shia cleric tells his militias to halt attacks until the US withdrawal is finished at the end of the year as required under a security agreement between Washington and Baghdad.

“Out of my desire to complete Iraq’s independence and to finish the withdrawal of the occupation forces from our holy lands, I am obliged to halt military operations of the honest Iraqi resistance until the withdrawal of the occupation forces is complete,” al-Sadr said in the statement, posted on Saturday night. Sadrist lawmaker Mushraq Naji confirmed the statement on Sunday.

However, al-Sadr warned that “if the withdrawal doesn’t happen ... the military operations will be resumed in a new and tougher way.” The statement followed last week’s announcement by US officials in Baghdad of the start of the withdrawal of some 45,000 US military personnel from Iraq. However, US and Iraqi leaders are considering whether some American troops should remain past the 31 December deadline as Baghdad continues to struggle with instability and burgeoning influence from Iran. Last month, Iraqi leaders began negotiating with US officials to keep at least several thousand troops in Iraq to continue training the nation’s shaky security forces.

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drbhelthi's avatar

By drbhelthi, September 12, 2011 at 11:22 am Link to this comment

“Last month, Iraqi leaders began negotiating with US officials to keep at least several thousand troops in Iraq to continue training the nation’s shaky security forces.” 
Please support this statement with a citation by reps. of Moqtada al-Sadr - - .

The message of Moqtada al-Sadr does not obtain parity with the idea of Iraqi officials negotiating to keep >at least< several thousand US troops to train Iraqi security forces. However, that US officials are finagling to keep a large footprint in Iraq makes more sense. Like, maybe not 45,000, but rather, a huge reduction, down to only 40,000 ?  Then, what about the 50,000 US operatives and US civilian employees, plus embassy staff ?  Do they also get to remain?

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tolstoy's avatar

By tolstoy, September 12, 2011 at 9:20 am Link to this comment

Clearly, the US wants to keep a foothold in Iraq as part of its “garrison the globe” overall policy. This is a mistake, unless we want another war in Iraq. Al Sadr must not be underestimated. He commands an enormous army which was largely responsible—by NOT becoming involved militarily—for the success of the so-called “surge” acclaimed by Bush some years back. We should get out and let Iraq deal with its own problems. Note how slanted this AP article is to keeping US troops on hand. Wider analysis is needed on whether Iraq can deal with its security issues, other than from the POV of the biased Kurds. But US “garrisoning the globe” policy will determine what happens. Continued war, continued war policies of the last 10 years likely.

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