Iraq, AfPak, beyond: the global cost of war

Paul Rogers, OpenDemocracy, June 18, 2009

The toxic phrase “war on terror” has fallen out of use, but the destructive effects of the real thing continue and even escalate in a period of economic crisis.

A major landmark in the in the United States’s military presence in Iraq arrives on 30 June 2009, when the army is scheduled to withdraw its combat-troops from the country’s cities. The terms of the “status-of-forces agreement” with the Iraqi government will see most of these (currently 133,000)  soldiers relocated to a number of major bases in rural areas, though some will join the 30,000 troops that have left Iraq since the peak of the “surge” in mid-2008.

The process is taking place against the background of continuing violence in Iraq, notwithstanding reports of an overall increase in security. Indeed, Iraq’s foreign minister Hoshyar Zebari is warning that al-Qaida and Ba’athist militant clusters will seek to escalate the level of violence in advance of the 30 June deadline, in order to take credit for forcing the Americans into a humiliating retreat (see Patrick Cockburn, “US troops ask Syria to thwart al-Qa’ida offensive“, Independent, 17 June 2009).

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