Posts Tagged ‘U.S. troops’

The Rationale for Keeping U.S. Forces in Iraq

February 27, 2010
by Jeremy R. Hammond, Foreign Policy Journal, February 25, 2010

With the deadline for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq at the end of next year creeping nearer, the U.S. has to find some way to convince the Iraqi government to allow a continued military presence, which is the likely outcome despite the U.S.-Iraq status of forces agreement containing the deadline.

One means by which this will be accomplished, relabeling “combat forces” something else, perhaps remaining as “military advisers” or something to that effect, has already been discussed. Thomas E. Ricks outlines another rationale for maintaining a military occupation of Iraq in the New York Times, offering up a variation on a theme that has been familiar throughout the war that is likely to become a mainstay in the political discourse.

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US Death Toll Reaches 1,000 in Afghanistan

February 23, 2010
Aol News, Feb 22, 2010

David Knowles
David Knowles Writer
(Feb. 22) — The number of U.S. troops killed in Afghanistan reached 1,000 Monday, nearly nine and a half years after an invasion was launched to overthrow the Taliban government and disrupt al-Qaida training operations.

According to figures compiled by iCasualties.org, a nonprofit group that tracks war casualties, the bulk of the deaths have occurred in two southern Afghan provinces, Kandahar and Helmand, where the U.S. Marines launched a major offensive last week.

Overall, with 319 soldiers killed, 2009 proved the most deadly year for U.S. forces, as President Obama shifted thousands of troops into the Afghan theater from Iraq. So far, 54 American soldiers have been killed in 2010.

A US Marine pays his respects during a memorial service.

Julie Jacobson, AP
A U.S. Marine pays his respects to Lance Cpl. Joshua Bernard, a fellow Marine who was mortally wounded during a Taliban ambush in Afghanistan last year.

By comparison to the U.S. toll, 264 coalition troops from the United Kingdom have died since 2001, and 140 Canadian soldiers have died in the fighting.

The 1,000th U.S. soldier to die in combat in Afghanistan was Cpl. Gregory S. Stultz of Brazil, Ind., the Department of Defense said. He was killed in Helmand province “while supporting combat operations.”

Filed under: Nation, World

The Pentagon Garrisons the Gulf

November 24, 2009

As Washington Talks Iraq Withdrawal, the Pentagon Builds Up Bases in the Region

By Nick Turse , ZNet, Nov 24, 2009
Source: TomDispatch

Despite recent large-scale insurgent suicide bombings that have killed scores of civilians and the fact that well over 100,000 U.S. troops are still deployed in that country, coverage of the U.S. war in Iraq has been largely replaced in the mainstream press by the (previously) “forgotten war” in Afghanistan. A major reason for this is the plan, developed at the end of the Bush years and confirmed by President Obama, to draw down U.S. troops in Iraq to 50,000 by August 2010 and withdraw most of the remaining forces by December 2011.

Getting out of Iraq, however, doesn’t mean getting out of the Middle East. For one thing, it’s likely that a sizeable contingent of U.S. forces will remain garrisoned on several large and remotely situated U.S. bases in Iraq well past December 2011. Still others will be stationed close by — on bases throughout the region where, with little media attention since the run-up to the invasion of Iraq in 2003, construction to harden, expand, and upgrade U.S. and allied facilities has gone on to this day.

Appearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee early this year, General David Petraeus, head of the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), stated: “The Arabian Peninsula commands significant U.S. attention and focus because of its importance to our interests and the potential for insecurity.” He continued:

“[T]he countries of the Arabian Peninsula are key partners… CENTCOM ground, air, maritime, and special operations forces participate in numerous operations and training events, bilateral and multilateral, with our partners from the Peninsula. We help develop indigenous capabilities for counter terrorism; border, maritime, and critical infrastructure security; and deterring Iranian aggression. As a part of all this, our FMS [Foreign Military Sales] and FMF [Foreign Military Financing] programs are helping to improve the capabilities and interoperability of our partners’ forces. We are also working toward an integrated air and missile defense network for the Gulf. All of these cooperative efforts are facilitated by the critical base and port facilities that Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, the UAE [United Arab Emirates], and others provide for US forces.”

In fact, since 2001 the Pentagon has been pouring significant sums of money into the “critical base and port facilities” mentioned by the general — both U.S. sites and those of its key regional partners. These are often ignored facts-on-the-ground, which signal just how enduring the U.S. military presence in the region is likely to be, no matter what happens in Iraq. Press coverage of this long-term infrastructural build-up has been remarkably minimal, given the implications for future conflicts in the oil heartlands of the planet. After all, Washington is sending tremendous amounts of military materiel into autocratic Middle Eastern nations and building-up bases in countries whose governments, due to domestic public opinion, often prefer that no publicity be given to the growing American military “footprint.”

Given that the current conflict with al-Qaeda stemmed, in no small part, from the U.S. military presence in the region, the issue is obviously of importance. Nonetheless, coverage has been so poor that much about U.S. military efforts there remains unknown. A review of U.S. government documents, financial data, and other open-source material by TomDispatch, however, reveals that an American military building boom yet to be seriously scrutinized, analyzed, or assessed is underway in the Middle East.

Consider, then, what we can at present know now about this Pentagon build-up, country by country from Qatar to Jordan, and while you’re reading, think about what we don’t know — and why Washington has chosen this path.

Qatar: The Pentagon’s Persian Gulf Pentagon

In 1996, although it had no air force of its own, the Persian Gulf nation of Qatar built Al Udeid Air Base at a cost of more than $1 billion. The goal: attracting the U.S. military. In September 2001, U.S. aircraft began to operate out of the facility. By 2002, tanks, armored vehicles, dozens of warehouses, communications and computing equipment, and thousands of troops were based at and around Al Udeid.  In 2005, the Qatari government spent almost $400 million to build a cutting-edge regional air operations center.

Today, Qatar is all but indispensable to the U.S. military. Just recently, for example, Central Command redeployed 750 personnel from its Tampa, Florida headquarters to its new forward headquarters at Al Udeid to test its “staff’s ability to seamlessly transition command and control of operations… in the event of a crisis in the CENTCOM area of responsibility or a natural disaster in Florida.”

Qatar has not, however, picked up the whole tab for the expanding U.S. military infrastructure in the country. The Pentagon has also been investing large amounts of money in upgrading facilities there for the last decade. From 2001-2009, the U.S. Army, for example, awarded $209 million in contracts for construction in the energy-rich emirate. In August, Rizzani de Eccher, an Italian engineering and construction giant, signed a $44 million deal with the Pentagon to replace an unspecified facility at Al Udeid. In September, the Department of Defense (DoD) awarded Florida-based IAP Worldwide Services a $6 million contract for “construction of a pre-engineered warehouse building… warehouse bay and related site work and utilities” at the base.

Later in the month, American International Contractors, a global construction firm that specializes in “US-funded Middle East and African infrastructure projects,” inked a deal for nearly $10 million to build a Special Operations Forces Training Range, complete with “a two-story shooting house, an indoor range, breach and storage facilities[,] a test fire bunker and bunker road” in Qatar. Just days after that, the Pentagon awarded a $52 million contract to Cosmopolitan-EMTA JV to upgrade the capacity of Al Udeid’s airfield by building additional aircraft parking ramps and fuel storage facilities.

Bahrain Base’s and Kuwait’s Subways

In nearby Bahrain — a tiny kingdom of 750,000 people — the U.S. stations up to 3,000 personnel, in addition to regular visits by the crews of Navy ships that spend time there. Between 2001-2009, the Navy awarded $203 million in construction contracts for military projects in the country. One big winner over that span has been the engineering and construction firm Contrack International. It received more than $50 million in U.S. government funds for such projects as building two “multi-story facilities for the U.S. Navy” complete with state-of-the-art communication interfaces and exterior landscaping.

In September 2009, the company was awarded a new $27 million deal “for the design/bid/build construction of the waterfront development program, US Naval Support Activity, Bahrain.” This facility will join the Navy’s undisputed crown jewel in Bahrain — a 188,000 square-foot mega-facility known as “the Freedom Souq” that houses a PX or Navy Exchange (NEX). The NEX, in turn, offers “an ice cream shop, bicycle shop, cell phone shop, tailor shop, barber and beauty shops, self-serve laundry, dry cleaning service, rug Souq, nutrition shop, video rental, and a 24/7 mini-mart,” while selling everything from cosmetics and cameras to beer and wine.

Work is also going on in nearby Oman where, in the 1930s, the British Royal Air Force utilized an airfield on Masirah Island for its ventures in the Middle East. Today, the U.S. Air Force and members of other service branches do much the same, operating out of the island’s Camp Justice. From 2001-2009, the Army and Air Force each spent about $13 million on construction projects in the sultanate. Contractor Cosmopolitan-EMTA JV is now set to begin work there, too, after recently signing a $5 million contract with the Pentagon for an “Expeditionary Tent Beddown” (presumably an area meant to accommodate a potential future influx of forces). Meanwhile, in the neighboring United Arab Emirates, the U.S. Army alone spent $46 million between 2001-2009 on construction projects.

In 1991, the U.S. military helped to push Saddam Hussein’s army out of Kuwait. After that, however, the country’s leader, Sheikh Jaber al-Ahmed al-Sabah, refused to return home “until crystal chandeliers and gold-plated bathroom fixtures could be reinstalled in Kuwait City’s Bayan Palace.” Today, about 30 miles south of the plush palace sits another pricey complex. Camp Arifjan grew exponentially as the Iraq War ramped up, gaining notoriety along the way as the epicenter of a massive graft and corruption scandal. Today, the base houses about 15,000 U.S. troops and features such fast-food favorites as Pizza Hut, Hardees, Subway, and Burger King.

Another facility in Kuwait that has become a major stopover point on the road to and from Baghdad is Camp Buehring. Located north of Kuwait City, near the town of Udairi, the installation is chock-a-block full of amenities, including three PXs, telephone centers, two internet cafes, Morale, Welfare and Recreation centers, a movie theater, chapel, gym, volley-ball court, basketball court, concert stage, gift shop, barber shop, jewelry store, and a number of popular eateries including Burger King, Subway, Baskin Robbins, and Starbucks.

Writing about the base recently, Captain Charles Barrett of the 3rd Infantry Division’s 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team remarked, “There’s a USO with computers and a Café. You know the café is good because it has that little mark over the letter ‘e.’ Soldiers are gaming on XBOX, Play Station and Wii. There are phone banks and board games and a place where parents can read to their kids and have the DVD mailed home.”

The price tag for living the big-box-base lifestyle in Kuwait has, however, been steep. From 2003 to 2009, the U.S. Army spent in excess of $502 million on contracts for construction projects in the small, oil-rich nation, while the Air Force added almost $55 million and the Navy another $7 million. Total military spending there has been more massive still. Over the same span, according to U.S. government data, the Pentagon has spent nearly $20 billion in Kuwait, buying huge quantities of Kuwaiti oil and purchasing logistical support from various contractors for its facilities there (and elsewhere), among other expenditures.

In 2006, for example, the international construction firm Archirodon was awarded $10 million to upgrade airfield lighting at Al-Salem and Al-Jaber, two Kuwaiti air bases used by American forces. Recently, there has also been a major scaling up of work at Camp Arifjan. In September, for example, the Pentagon awarded CH2M Hill Contractors a nearly $26 million deal to build a new communications facility on the base. Just days later, defense contractor ITT received an almost $87 million contract for maintenance and support services there.

Saudi Base Building and Jordan’s U.S. Army Training Complex

According to a recent Congressional Research Service report, “From 1950 through 2006, Saudi Arabia purchased and received from the United States weapons, military equipment, and related services through Foreign Military Sales (FMS) worth over $62.7 billion and foreign military construction services (FMCS) worth over $17.1 billion.” Between 1946 and 2007, the Saudis also benefited from almost $295 million in foreign assistance funding from the U.S. military.

From the lead up to the First Gulf War in 1990 through the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the U.S. military stationed thousands of troops in Saudi Arabia. The American presence in the kingdom — the location of some of the holiest sites in Islam — was a major factor in touching off al-Qaeda’s current war with the United States. In 2003, in response to fundamentalist pressure on the Saudi government, the U.S. military announced it was pulling all but a small number of trainers out of the country. Yet while many U.S. troops have left, Pentagon contracts haven’t — a significant portion of them for construction projects for the Saudi Arabian military, which the U.S. trains and advises from sites like Eskan Village, a compound 20 kilometers south of Riyadh, where 800 U.S. personnel (500 of them advisors) are based.

Between 2003-2009, the U.S. Army awarded $559 million in contracts for Saudi construction projects. In 2009, for example, it gave a $160 million deal to construction firm Saudi Oger Limited for the construction of facilities for a Saudi mechanized brigade based at Al Hasa, a $127 million contract to Saudi Lebanese Modern Construction Co. to erect structures for the Prince Turki Bin Abdul Aziz Battalion, and an $82 million agreement to top Saudi construction firm Al-Latifia Trading and Contracting Company to build ammunition storage bunkers, possibly at the Saudi Arabian National Guard’s Khashm Al An Training Area.

Additionally, military weaponry has continued to flow into Saudi Arabia by way of the Pentagon and so, too, have contracts to provide support services for that materiel. For example, earlier this year, under a U.S. Air Force contract extension, Cubic Corporation was awarded a $9.5 million deal “to continue to operate and maintain the air combat training system used to support F-15 fighter pilot training for the Royal Saudi Air Force.”

Like the Saudis, Jordan’s leader, King Abdullah II, has long had a complex relationship with the U.S. shaped by domestic concerns over U.S. military action in the region and support for Israel. As with Saudi Arabia, none of that has stopped the U.S. military from forging ever closer ties with the kingdom.

Recently, after testing and evaluating various training systems at multiple U.S. Army bases, the Jordanian Armed Forces selected Cubic’s combat training center system and under the auspices of the U.S. Army, the company was “awarded an $18 million contract to supply mobile combat training center instrumentation and training services to the Kingdom of Jordan.”

The Pentagon has also invested in Jordanian military infrastructure. Between 2001-2009, the Army awarded $86 million in contracts for Jordanian construction projects. One major beneficiary was again Archirodon which, between 2006-2008, worked on the construction of the King Abdullah II Special Operations Training Center (KASOTC) — a state-of-the-art military and counter-terrorism training facility owned and operated by the Jordanian government but built, in part, under a $70 million U.S. Army contract. In 2009, Archirodon was awarded two additional contracts for $729,000 and $400,000, by the Air Force, for unspecified work in Jordan.

When that 1,235-acre $200 million Jordanian training center was unveiled earlier this year, King Abdullah II himself gave the inaugural address, speaking “of his vision for KASOTC as a world-class special forces training center.” Not surprisingly, General Petraeus was also on hand to give a speech in which he lauded Jordan as “a key partner… [which] has placed itself at the forefront of police and military training for regional security forces.”

Garrisoning the Gulf

Even as it lurches toward a quasi-withdrawal from Iraq, the U.S. military has been hunkering down and hardening its presence elsewhere in the Middle East with little fanfare or press coverage. There has been almost no discussion in this country of a host of possible repercussions that might come from this, ranging from local opposition to the U.S. military’s presence to the arming of undemocratic and repressive regimes in the region. With the sole exception of Iran, the U.S. military has fully garrisoned the nations of the Persian Gulf with air bases, naval bases, desert posts, training centers, and a whole host of other facilities, while also building up the military capacity of nearby Jordan.

The CIA efforts to topple Iran’s government in the 1950s, Washington’s support for Saddam Hussein’s Iraq in the 1980s, the Pentagon’s troop presence in Saudi Arabia in the 1990s — all were considered canny geopolitical moves in their time; all had unforeseen and devastating consequences. The money the Pentagon has recently been pouring into the nations of the Persian Gulf to bulk up base infrastructure has only tied the U.S. ever more tightly to the region’s autocratic, often unpopular regimes, while further arming and militarizing an area traditionally considered unstable. The Pentagon’s Persian Gulf base build-up has already cost Americans billions in tax dollars. What the costs in “blowback” will be remains the unknown part of the equation.
Nick Turse is the associate editor of TomDispatch.com and the winner of a 2009 Ridenhour Prize for Reportorial Distinction as well as a James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism. His work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the Nation, In These Times, and regularly at TomDispatch. Turse is currently a fellow at New York University’s Center for the United States and the Cold War. A paperback edition of his book The Complex: How the Military Invades Our Everyday Lives (Metropolitan Books) was published earlier this year. His website is NickTurse.com.

[This article first appeared on Tomdispatch.com, a weblog of the Nation Institute, which offers a steady flow of alternate sources, news, and opinion from Tom Engelhardt, long time editor in publishing, co-founder of the American Empire Project, author of The End of Victory Culture, and editor of The World According to Tomdispatch: America in the New Age of Empire.]

CNN Poll: Will Afghanistan turn into another Vietnam?

October 20, 2009
CNN, October 19th, 2009 12:34 PM ET

From

Will Afghanistan turn into another Vietnam?

Will Afghanistan turn into another Vietnam?

WASHINGTON (CNN) – A slight majority of Americans think that the war in Afghanistan is turning into another Vietnam, according to a new national poll which also indicates that nearly six in 10 oppose sending more U.S. troops to the conflict.

Fifty-two percent of people questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Monday say the eight year long conflict has turned into a situation like the U.S. faced in the Vietnam War, with 46 percent disagreeing.

According to the poll, 59 percent of people questioned opposed sending more U.S. troops to Afghanistan with 39 percent in favor. Of the 59 percent opposed, 28 percent want Washington to withdraw all U.S troops, 21 percent are calling for a partial American pullout, and 8 percent say the number of troops should remain the same.

“Has Afghanistan turned into Barack Obama’s Vietnam? Most Americans think so, and that may be one reason why they oppose sending more U.S. troops to that country,” says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. “Older Americans are most likely to see parallels between Afghanistan and Vietnam – possibly because they remember the Vietnam War, rather than reading about it in textbooks.”
President Barack Obama and his top military, national security and foreign policy advisers are conducting an intensive strategic review of the U.S. military presence in the war-torn country. The president is weighing a suggestion by the top American military commander in Afghanistan to increase force levels by as many as 40,000 troops.

More than two-thirds of people polled say it’s unlikely Afghanistan will have stable government in the next few years. And that was before Monday’s release of a United Nations report alleging widespread fraud in the recent Afghanistan elections. According to the survey, around two-thirds also feel that its unlikely that without American assistance, the Afghan military and police will be able to keep their country safe and secure or prevent terrorists from using Afghanistan as a base of operations for planning attacks against the U.S.

The poll indicates that six in 10 Americans feel it’s necessary to keep U.S. forces in Afghanistan in order to prevent terrorist attacks on the United States. And a similar number say the conflict in Afghanistan is part of the war against terrorism which began with the 9/11 attacks in 2001.

“That’s probably the reason why Afghanistan is still more popular than the war in Iraq,” Say Holland. “Many Americans make the connection between 9/11 and Afghanistan, and the public recognizes that there is little chance that the Afghan government can deal with terrorists on its own.”

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll was conducted Friday through Sunday, with 1,038 adult Americans questioned by telephone.

The survey’s sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Soldiers Who Just Say No

August 18, 2009

Jon Letman | Inter Press Service, Aug 18, 2009

KAUAI, Hawaii, 17 Aug (IPS) – Six months into Barack Obama’s presidency, the U.S. public’s display of antiwar sentiment has faded to barely a whisper.

Despite Obama’s vow to withdraw all combat forces from Iraq before September 2011, he plans to leave up to 50,000 troops in “training and advisory” roles. Meanwhile, nearly 130,000 troops remain in that country and more than 50,000 U.S. soldiers occupy Afghanistan, with up to an additional 18,000 approved for deployment this year.

So where is the resistance?

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Escalation Scam: Troops in Afghanistan

July 10, 2009

Norman Solomon, The Huffington Post, July 9, 2009

The president has set a limit on the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan. For now.

That’s how escalation works. Ceilings become floors. Gradually.

A few times since last fall, the Obama team has floated rising numbers for how many additional U.S. soldiers will be sent to Afghanistan. Now, deployment of 21,000 more is a done deal, with a new total cap of 68,000 U.S. troops in that country.

But “escalation” isn’t mere jargon. And it doesn’t just refer to what’s happening outside the United States.

“Escalation” is a word for a methodical process of acclimating people at home to the idea of more military intervention abroad — nothing too sudden, just a step-by-step process of turning even more war into media wallpaper — nothing too abrupt or jarring, while thousands more soldiers and billions more dollars funnel into what Martin Luther King Jr. called a “demonic suction tube,” complete with massive violence, mayhem, terror and killing on a grander scale than ever.

As war policies unfold, the news accounts and dominant media discourse rarely disrupt the trajectory of events. From high places, the authorized extent of candor is a matter of timing.

Lots of recent spin from Washington has promoted the assumption that President Obama wants to stick with the current limit on deployments to Afghanistan. Soon after pushing supplemental war funds through Congress, he’s hardly eager to proclaim that 68,000 American troops in Afghanistan may not be enough after all.

But no amount of spin can change the fact that the U.S. military situation in Afghanistan continues to deteriorate. It would be astonishing if plans for add-on deployments weren’t already far along at the Pentagon.

Meanwhile, the White House is reenacting a macabre ritual — a repetition compulsion of the warfare state — carefully timing and titrating each dose of public information to ease the process of escalation. The basic technique is far from new.

In the spring and early summer of 1965, President Lyndon Johnson decided to send 100,000 additional U.S. troops to Vietnam, more than doubling the number there. But at a July 28 news conference, he announced that he’d decided to send an additional 50,000 soldiers.

Why did President Johnson say 50,000 instead of 100,000? Because he was heeding the advice from something called a “Special National Security Estimate” — a secret document, issued days earlier about the already-approved new deployment, urging that “in order to mitigate somewhat the crisis atmosphere that would result from this major U.S. action . . . announcements about it be made piecemeal with no more high-level emphasis than necessary.”

Forty-four years later, something similar is underway with deployments of U.S. troops to Afghanistan.

Iraq a failed imperialist venture

July 5, 2009

Haroon Siddiqui | The Star,  July 5, 2009

American troops were not welcomed with flowers in Iraq but their departure from cities and towns has been.

Iraqis celebrated National Sovereignty Day Tuesday as U.S. troops were yanked out of populated centres and put into remote bases.

In time, even that hidden presence will begin to grate on the Iraqis, just as a U.S. military base in Saudi Arabia had spurred Osama bin Laden and others.

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The Truth Behind The Iraq “Sovereignty” Propaganda

July 3, 2009

Hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops to remain stationed at dozens of U.S. military bases throughout the country

The Truth Behind The Iraq Sovereignty Propaganda 300609top2

Paul Joseph Watson
Prison Planet.com
Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The corporate media is getting all giddy and affording blanket coverage to the story of Iraqis who are “regaining their sovereignty” as U.S. troops are pulled out from Iraqi cities. This is of course lurid and baseless propaganda – hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops will remain in Iraq stationed at the dozens of military bases that have been built across the country.

“As of now, there are approximately 130,000 U.S. military personnel in Iraq. Most of the U.S. soldiers that had been deployed in Iraqi cities are being returned to garrison elsewhere in country. The United States Air Force controls Iraq’s airspace. The United States Navy controls Iraq’s territorial waters,” points out the Cryptogon blog.

“Sovereignty: No. Propaganda: Yes.”

After the “official” full withdrawal date of 2011, which Admiral Mike Mullen has indicated isn’t even guaranteed, “Mr. Obama plans to leave behind a “residual force” of tens of thousands of troops to continue training Iraqi security forces, hunt down foreign terrorist cells and guard American institutions,” reported the New York Times back in February.

“Residual force” is a euphemism for “occupying army,” since only the most stupidly naive could ever believe that Iraq is now nothing more than a subservient client state of the new world order empire.

A senior military officer spelled it out more plainly to the Los Angeles Times, “When President Obama said we were going to get out within 16 months, some people heard, ‘get out,’ and everyone’s gone. But that is not going to happen,” the officer said.

Indeed, at the last count which took place nearly three years ago, the U.S. military had already built no less than 55 fully functional military bases in Iraq, with funding in place to build many more.

Furthermore, U.S. troops aren’t even leaving the cities altogether. Reports confirm that U.S. tanks will continue to patrol the areas outside of the “green zone” and the airport in Baghdad. The streets of major cities will still be patrolled by U.S.-trained Iraqi soldiers manning checkpoints everywhere harassing people for ID. In addition, if the Iraqis “request help” from U.S. troops to undertake security procedures, they’ll be right back on the streets just as before.

Iraqis themselves are not fooled by the charade. As the New York Times admits, the “celebrations” today “seemed contrived”, “Police cars were festooned with plastic flowers, and signs celebrating “independence day” were tied to blast walls and fences around the city. On Monday, night a festive evening celebration in Zahra Park with singers and entertainers drew primarily young men, many of them off-duty police officers,” according to the report.

“There is no doubt this is not national sovereignty because the Americans will stay inside Iraq in military bases,” said Najim Salim, 40, a teacher in Basra. “But the government wants to convince the citizens that there is a withdrawal of foreign troops, although the government could not protect citizens in some cities in Iraq even with the presence of U.S. forces.”

According to Websters dictionary, “sovereignty” is defined as “freedom from external control”.

Anyone who believes that Iraq is a sovereign country and has “freedom from external control,” or will ever achieve it while hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops are stationed at dozens of bases throughout the country, probably still believes that Saddam was hiding weapons of mass destruction.

U.S.–Iraq: A Withdrawal in Name Only

June 25, 2009
Erik Leaver and Daniel Atzmon | Foreign Policy In Focus, June  24, 2009

On November 17, 2008, when Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari and U.S. ambassador Ryan Crocker signed an agreement for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, citizens from both countries applauded. While many were disappointed about the lengthy timeline for the withdrawal of the troops, it appeared that a roadmap was set to end the war and occupation. However, the first step — withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraqi cities by June 30, 2009 — is full of loopholes, and tens of thousands of U.S. soldiers will remain in the cities after the “deadline” passes.

The failure to fully comply with the withdrawal agreement indicates the United States is looking to withdraw from Iraq in name only, as it appears that up to 50,000 military personnel will remain after the deadline.

Continued >>


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