The Iraq word
Editorial, Khaleej Times, 23 October 2011
Baghdad and Washington have decided on Iraq war. US President Barack Obama’s formal announcement to pull out troops from the war-weary country after nine years of misadventure should come as some consolation for the Iraqis.
In a videophone conference, Obama, however, took pains to convince the Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki for coming up with the concession of retaining a section of artillery and soldiers under the guise of training and stability provisions. But it seems Maliki too had his own political limitations, irrespective of the fact whether he personally favoured such a deal. The very fact that he presides over a coalition that has hardened radical elements who swear anti-Americanism as their political manifesto should have come as an impediment. With still 70 or so odd days to go before the US pullout is completed, one has to keep fingers crossed. Such resolves have been there for the last many years, with either of the parties — time and again — dithering to take a final call in the name of security and political brinkmanship.
Now it remains to be seen as to how Obama choreographs this pronouncement, as he faces a tough electoral year shortly. Though it had been his promise to end the two ‘unnecessary’ wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, it has never been a straight objective to achieve in almost his first three years of presidency. Somersaults in Afghanistan had pushed the United States at the verge of brink and its policy-makers are clueless as how to deal with a resurgent Taleban and a virtual Al Qaeda in the Southwest Asia. Similarly, with the US economy in the doldrums, the Republicans can hardly be subdued over the fact that the Democratic incumbent had been able to end the two wars and bring it to a logical geopolitical conclusion. The Republicans and the ultra-Right in the US have always campaigned it as a mechanism to promote US interests abroad, and at the same time bring in big business for its military hardware. How Obama can manage to sell his policy on the global level when he faces a tough time on his health, welfare and jobs doctrines won’t be hard to guess.
The point, however, remains that what will be the fate of Iraq after the foreign security cushion is withdrawn? How effectively the Iraqis have been able to build a defence infrastructure of their own and how efficient is their intelligence and police gear will come under the scanner sooner than later. But the fact that Iraq has decided to go sovereign by giving up the security crutches is most welcome. Now is the time for the US and other Western powers to marshal their support for Baghdad, and ensure that it doesn’t slip into lawlessness. Sharing of notes on the intelligence front and collaborating to rebuild a new Iraq is indispensable.