Civil War(s) in Iraq
Saturday, August 22, 2009 7:40 AM
From: “Stephen Sniegoski”
After all the falsehoods that were used to get the United States to attack
Iraq, war supporters claimed that the alleged success of the “surge” had
proven them correct. Of course, the promise of the “surge” has turned out
to be another falsehood; it has not brought about long-term unity in Iraq,
as is now apparent. It only reduced the violence in the short-term. As I
wrote in “The Transparent Cabal,” “However, the rationale for the surge was
that improved security would provide the opportunity for the central
government in Iraq to work for national reconciliation and gain greater
popular support. This clearly did not take place.” (p. 308) My evaluation
(which reflected the thinking of experts in the field) still stands.
As the following articles point out, the concern is now about civil war in
Iraq. The major question seems to be who will be the major
adversaries—Sunnis vs. Shiites or Arabs vs. Kurds. Likely, the civil
war(s) will involve all of these groups as Iraq fragments. As I point out
in “The Transparent Cabal,” such fragmentation was predicted and was, in
fact, the goal of Likudnik thinkers such as Oded Yinon. In short, the
elimination of Saddam’s regime would inevitably lead to such a situation.
The Washington Times
Originally published 04:45 a.m., August 10, 2009, updated 02:06 p.m., August
EXCLUSIVE: Report sees recipe for civil war in Iraq
Eli Lake (Contact)
A report to be published this month by the U.S. government’s prestigious
National Defense University warns that the Iraqi army and police are
becoming pawns of sectarian political parties — a trend that it calls “a
recipe for civil war.”
The report by Najim Abed al-Jabouri, a former Iraqi mayor and police chief
who helped run the first successful counterinsurgency campaign in Iraq after
the U.S. invasion, also concludes that U.S. forces have failed to use their
remaining leverage as trainers to insulate the Iraqi army and police from
the influence of powerful Shi’ite and Sunni Muslim and Kurdish parties.
“U.S. efforts to rebuild the [Iraqi security forces] have focused on much
needed training and equipment, but have neglected the greatest challenge
facing the forces’ ability to maintain security upon U.S. withdrawal: an ISF
politicized by ethno-sectarian parties,” he wrote.
“These ties pose the largest obstacle to the ISF in its quest to become
genuinely professional and truly national in character. A professional
military force holds the best prospect of gaining and keeping the trust of
the people, but a force riven with destructive sectarian and ethnic
loyalties is a recipe for civil war.”
The paper, made available to The Washington Times, carries particular weight
considering its author.
Mr. al-Jabouri was the police chief and later the mayor of Tal Afar, a city
in Ninevah province, in 2005 and 2006 when he and then-Col. H.R. McMaster
waged a counterinsurgency campaign that became the model for the strategy
that was successfully employed in 2007 and 2008 throughout Iraq. In a March
20, 2006, speech, President Bush singled out Mr. al-Jabouri, saying the U.S.
was “proud to have allies like Mayor Najim.”
The strategy, which is now being applied in Afghanistan, requires the armed
forces to earn the trust of the local population by providing security and
by proving to be an honest broker of internecine disputes.
“What gives this piece its particular value is that it comes from someone
who provided the leadership necessary to help stop a brutal localized civil
war,” said Brig. Gen. McMaster, who was promoted last year.
“If it had not been for his courage and nonpartisan leadership and his
reform of the police, we could not have moved the various communities in Tal
Afar toward the political accommodation necessary to break the cycle of
sectarian violence,” he told The Times.
Under a U.S.-Iraq status of forces agreement, the U.S. is to withdraw all
troops from Iraq by the end of 2011. The hope is that by then, Iraq will
have security forces trusted by Shi’ite and Sunni Arabs, Kurds and other
ethnic and religious minorities.
Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in a recent
interview with The Times that sectarian conflict poses the greatest
challenge to Iraq’s stability.
“The biggest threat long-term would be the breakout of sectarian violence,”
he said last week. “I would extend that to your question about the
sectarianism inside the military. … The sectarian issue is one that we are
very focused on. It was a brutal, brutal teacher to so many of us. I don’t
think Iraq has much of a future if that breaks out.”
Adm. Mullen said, however, that authorities had defused several potentially
explosive incidents over the past few months without sectarianism raising
“its ugly head.”
“It didn’t happen,” he said. “That is not a prescription for [saying] it
won’t happen, for sure. Except that all the leaders, political and military,
recognize this could be their undoing.”
Mr. al-Jabouri’s assessment suggests that Iraqi restraint may melt away as
U.S. troops withdraw and leave the Iraqis to their own devices.
He notes, for example, that many of Iraq’s army divisions are more loyal to
their political patrons than to the central government.
“The majority of these divisions are under the patronage of a political
party,” he writes. “For example, the 8th [Iraqi army] division in Kut and
Diwaniyah is heavily influenced by the Dawa Party [of Shi’ite Prime Minister
Nouri al-Maliki]; the 4th IA division in Salahuddin is influenced by
President Jalal Talabani’s Patriotic Union of Kurdistan; the 7th IA division
in Anbar is influenced by the [Sunni] Iraqi Awakening Party, and the 5th IA
division in Diyala is heavily influenced by the Islamic Supreme Council of
Iraq,” a Shi’ite political party with some ties to Iran.
“The political parties are able to maintain influence over the divisions
because the commanders and many of the soldiers were hired by the party,”
Mr. al-Jabouri wrote.
Iraq’s ambassador to the United States, Samir Sumaida’ie, told The Times
that the report was too “alarmist” and “a little bit out of date.”
The ambassador, who served as Iraq’s interior minister in 2004, said, “We
went through a time when it was a serious concern, and there was a time when
the security forces could become part of the problem and not the solution.
But we have gotten past that.
“There has been very active and serious purging of officers and personnel
who acted in a sectarian or party political sense. Thousands were expelled.
The culture that prevails now is much more encouraging toward a national
awareness and loyalty to the law of the land rather than ethnic or sectarian
Mr. al-Jabouri’s critique in some ways echoes an e-mail made public last
month by the New York Times, from a U.S. military adviser in Baghdad. Col.
Timothy R. Reese concluded that Iraq’s military has little interest in
becoming a Western professional force. But unlike Mr. Reese, Mr. al-Jabouri
said the United States still has leverage and a window to push for reforms.
He recommended, for example, that Iraq’s Ministry of Defense begin moving
battalions to different divisions to break up the monopolies of some
political parties in various regions. The former police chief also said Iraq
should “redouble efforts at national reconciliation,” remove corrupt ISF
commanders, particularly in the Ministry of Interior, and enforce existing
laws that prohibit political parties from meddling with the military.
On the last point, Mr. al-Jabouri said the government should allow more
Iraqi media coverage of the military and national police and protect Iraqi
judges investigating cases inside security services, particularly when they
involve political parties.
His harshest charge was that the U.S. military has stood idly by as segments
of the security services have become more beholden to political parties.
This is a particularly stinging indictment considering that U.S. policy
since 2003 has been to train the Iraqi police and military to be a bulwark
against civil war.
While some recent actions by the Iraqi military suggest progress — such as
an offensive in 2008 in the southern city of Basra that pitted mostly
Shi’ite Iraqi soldiers against renegade Shi’ite militias — Mr. al-Jabouri
says Iraqi forces have a long way to go.
“What the United States fails to realize is that the ISF itself is the
battleground in the larger communal struggle for power and survival. Middle
Eastern concepts of civil-military relations are fundamentally different
than Western concepts,” he writes.
“Western militaries have developed a culture of political control over armed
forces. While this may have been a tool for the development of Western
democracies, this is not the established culture in either Iraq or the
greater Middle East. In Iraq, there is a culture of ‘he who owns the
security forces owns the politics.’ ”
Adm. Mullen said the U.S. mission in Iraq was well aware of the problem and
was responding to it.
“I know this is something that Gen. [Ray] Odierno [commander of U.S. forces
in Iraq] and his commanders address,” Adm. Mullen
Wednesday, Jul. 22, 2009
Why Kurds vs. Arabs Could Be Iraq’s Next Civil War
By Andrew Lee Butters
With a projected capacity of about 40,000 bbl. a day, the new oil refinery
inaugurated on July 18 by the Kurdish regional government of northern Iraq
is modest even by the standards of Iraq’s dilapidated oil industry. But its
significance shouldn’t be underestimated: in Kurdish minds, the region’s
ability to refine the oil it pumps is a vital step toward deepening its
autonomy from the Arab-majority remainder of Iraq. (Read “The Reasons Behind
Big Oil Declining Iraq’s Riches.”)
Until recently, Iraqi Kurdistan had no refineries of its own, and though the
area is sitting on a huge pool of oil, it had to rely on gasoline supplies
from elsewhere in Iraq, Turkey or Iran. Fearful of giving Iraq’s ethnic
Kurdish minority any control over the country’s most precious resource,
Saddam Hussein had not only declined to build refineries in the region; he
made sure Iraq’s oil pipelines bypassed Kurdish areas, and his army forcibly
removed much of the Kurdish population from Kirkuk – the most important
oil-producing area in the north – and repopulated the city with Arabs from
the south. (Watch a video about the gas shortage in Iraq.)
Since Saddam’s demise, however, the autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government
(KRG) is steadily developing an independent oil industry in northern Iraq.
It has discovered and begun to develop new oil fields inside its boundaries,
and has entered production-sharing deals with foreign oil companies that
were made without the consent of the federal government in Baghdad. Those
deals have raised suspicions among Iraq’s Arab-dominated government that KRG
is not simply taking on more of the prerogatives of sovereign statehood but
is actually laying the economic infrastructure for independence.
For their part, Kurdish officials suspect that Baghdad’s failure to pass a
national oil law (which would give Iraq’s provincial governments greater
control over the industry in their territory) and its failure to press ahead
with a referendum to settle Kurdish claims to Kirkuk and other disputed
areas are signs that the Arab majority plans to settle matters in its favor.
(Read “The U.S. Military: Mediating Between Kurds and Arabs.”)
Such is the enmity, in fact, that KRG’s president, Massoud Barzani, and
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki haven’t spoken in over a year.
Recently, KRG Prime Minister Nechirwan Barzani said that Arab-Kurdish
relations in Iraq are at their lowest point since Saddam was in power. With
Iraq’s Sunni-Shi’ite sectarian violence largely in check, the Kurdish-Arab
dispute has become the most worrisome fault line in Iraq.
Ever since the U.S. invasion, the Kurds of northern Iraq have enjoyed many
of the trappings of sovereignty. Kurds have their own parliament and
executive government, plus an 80,000-strong army (the Pesh Merga militia)
and control over their borders, which Baghdad-controlled security forces are
not allowed to enter. Despite the fact that the vast majority of Kurds want
independence from Iraq, their leaders have proceeded with caution, mindful
of the risks. Their small, landlocked region is surrounded by neighbors –
Turkey, Syria, Iran – whose own restive Kurdish minorities make them hostile
to the prospect of an independent Kurdish state emerging in Iraq. (See why
Arab-Kurd animosity threatens Iraq’s fragile peace.)
While the rest of Iraq was in the grip of insurgency and sectarian civil
war, the Kurds quietly advanced their economic-development policies,
building an international airport, business hotels and hydro-electric dams
and – most important – doing oil deals. They explained this autonomous
engagement with international oil markets on the grounds that they couldn’t
wait for the barely functional Iraqi state to get its house in order.
Indeed, such is the dismal state of Iraq’s oil production (not yet back at
pre-invasion levels, which were a fraction of its full potential) that in
June, the Iraqi government allowed the Kurds to begin pumping oil extracted
from newly developed Kurdish oil fields through federal pipelines for export
sale to Turkey. (Currently, only Iraqi government companies can sell oil,
the revenue from which is shared among the regions.)
Kurds have also grown impatient with Baghdad’s stance on disputed
territories. According to the Iraqi constitution, the central government
should hold a referendum in the Kurdish-populated areas of four Iraqi
governorates in northern Iraq (including Kirkuk) to determine whether they
should remain under Baghdad’s control or become part of the KRG. But even
before that takes place, the constitution commits the Iraqi government to a
potentially explosive reversing of Saddam’s “Arabization” policies in these
areas, moving Arabs out and Kurds in.
The Iraqi government has postponed the referendum several times from its
original date in 2007, citing the understandable excuse that it could spark
a new civil war between Kurds and Arabs.
But now that Iraq’s government is increasingly stable, Kurdish leaders fear
that Baghdad is merely playing for time, allowing the Iraqi military to grow
in strength and capability as the U.S. moves to draw down, allowing the
Iraqi government eventually to settle the issue the old-fashioned way: with
tanks. Already, Kurdish and Iraqi forces have nearly clashed on several
occasions in the disputed territories.
Last month, Kurdish lawmakers passed a regional constitution that
unilaterally laid claim to the disputed territories and the oil resources in
them. Though some Iraqi officials have said that the constitution amounts to
a Kurdish declaration of independence, Kurdish leaders are pushing for a
referendum to be held on the constitution as early as August.
Meanwhile, the domestic politics of both the Kurdish region and the wider
Arab Iraq are pushing the two sides toward confrontation. In Kurdistan,
where parliamentary elections will be held on June 25, a new party called
Change is mounting the first significant challenge to the duopoly of
Barzani’s Kurdistan Democratic Party and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan,
led by Iraqi President Jalal Talabani. The new party is gaining ground by
tapping into growing dissatisfaction with government corruption and
nepotism. Although the parties credited with delivering today’s de facto
independence are likely to win, they have moved to strengthen their position
by sharpening their tone toward Baghdad as the election approaches.
Baghdad has troubles of its own, which creates an incentive for
Kurd-bashing. Most Iraqi Arabs have even less faith in their corrupt
leadership class than Kurds have in theirs. And as al-Maliki consolidates
his grip on power and styles himself as Iraq’s new strongman, he may find
that promising to push back against Kurdish efforts to dismember Iraq could
help rally Arab Iraqis, both Sunni and Shi’ite, behind him. Hey, it worked
Arab-Kurdish tensions escalate in Iraq
Published: Aug. 10, 2009 at 4:43 PM
Territorial disputes over the oil-rich regions of northern Iraq are bringing
Arabs and Kurds closer to the brink of conflict, analysts say.
The Kurdistan Regional Government and central government in Baghdad are at
odds over the so-called disputed territories, running along a de facto
border from Sinjar in the province of Mosul to Khanaqin in the eastern
province of Diyala.
U.S. intermediaries narrowly brokered a recent settlement to a clash between
the 28th Brigade of the Iraqi army and members of the Peshmerga, the Kurdish
With U.S. combat forces preparing for a precipitous withdraw, however, the
potential for conflict is becoming much greater, notes Patrick Cockburn, an
Iraqi analyst writing for London’s Independent newspaper.
A report by the International Crisis Group notes that with the “glue” of
U.S. combat forces drawing down in Iraq, opposing sides in the Arab-Kurdish
dispute are “likely to fight.”
Cockburn notes that Arabs, for their part, complain that Kurdish ambitions
have escalated since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, while Kurds object to
the presence of Iraq troops, which they see as no better than the military
under Saddam Hussein.
Meanwhile, tensions simmer as Iraq embarks on a plan to breathe new life
into its sagging oil sector. Iraq is moving ahead with plans to court
international companies to tap its vast oil reserves, but several have
stayed away, citing conflict in the oil-rich disputed territories.
Cockburn warns that a conflict between Arabs and Kurds would likely divide
the emerging nation, inviting regional tensions as both sides seek foreign
Independent August 10, 2009
Kurdish faultline threatens to spark new war
The only thing keeping Arabs and Kurds from fighting is the glue of US
By Patrick Cockburn in Mosul
It is called the “trigger line”, a 300-mile long swathe of disputed
territory in northern Iraq where Arab and Kurdish soldiers confront each
other, and which risks turning into a battlefield. As the world has focused
on the US troop withdrawal from Iraq, and the intensifying war in
Afghanistan, Arabs and Kurds in Iraq have been getting closer to an all out
war over control of the oil-rich lands stretching from the borders of Syria
in the west to Iran in the east.
The risk of armed conflict is acute because the zone in dispute is a mosaic
of well-armed communities backed by regular forces. Kurdish and Arab
soldiers here watch each other’s movements with deepest suspicion in case
the other side might attempt to establish new facts on the ground. It is to
avert a new armed conflict breaking out between the powerful military forces
on both sides that Iraq’s Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, travelled to
Kurdistan for crisis talks last week with Kurdish leaders, Iraq’s (Kurdish)
President, Jalal Talabani, and the President of the autonomous Kurdistan
Regional Government (KRG), Massoud Barzani. Mr Maliki and Mr Barzani had not
met for a year during which their exchanges have been barbed and aggressive.
The 26th Brigade of the 7th Division of the Iraqi army, an Arab unit,
recently tried to move from Diyala province northeast of Baghdad through
Makhmur, where there is a Kurdish majority, to reach the mainly Sunni Arab
city of Mosul. Fearful this might be a Baghdad government land-grab for
Makhmour, Kurdish civilians blocked the road. Khasro Goran, a senior member
of the ruling Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), says the army advance would
have been resisted if it had gone on. “Our forces had taken up positions on
higher ground and if the Iraqi army brigade had come on, they were under
orders to open fire.” Ominously for the future unity of Iraq, the Kurdish
unit preparing to shoot was itself part of the Iraqi army.
American mediation and Arab-Kurdish negotiations in Baghdad ultimately
prevented a clash and the 26th Brigade withdrew without fighting. But
according to Mohammed Ihsan, the KRG’s Minister for Extra Regional Affairs,
who has responsibility for the disputed territories, any outbreak of
hostilities could be the start of a major conflict: “If fighting does start
at one point I am sure it will quickly spread along the whole line from
Sinjar [near Syria] to Khanaqin [near Iran].”
President Barack Obama’s administration is alarmed by the prospect of Iraq
splitting apart just as the US pulls its troops out. But Washington can also
see the danger of becoming more deeply enmeshed in the Arab-Kurdish
conflict, which kept northern Iraq ablaze for much of the last century. US
withdrawal also frightens the Kurds, the one Iraqi community that supported
the US-led invasion. They can see the political and military balance is
swinging against them just as they are faced by Mr Maliki’s rejuvenated
Iraqi government commanding the increasingly confident 600,000-strong Iraqi
security forces. A report by the International Crisis Group concluded
recently that “without the glue that US troops have provided, Iraq’s
political actors are otherwise likely to fight all along the trigger line
following a withdrawal, emboldened by a sense that they can prevail, if
necessary, with outside help.”
Arab leaders, both Shia and Sunni, claim that the Kurds have overplayed
their hand since 2003. As Saddam Hussein’s regime was disintegrating,
Kurdish forces swept into the cities of Mosul and Kirkuk, seizing
territories where there was or had been a Kurdish majority before Saddam
Hussein’s ethnic cleansing. The sole sign of one of the 3,500 Kurdish
villages destroyed by Saddam is often a pathetic pile of stones in a field
where people once lived before they were killed or forced to flee, their
herds of cows and flocks of sheep slaughtered, and concrete poured down the
Kurdish vociferousness over the danger of renewed war with the Arabs stems
partly from wanting to panic the US into staying involved in the dispute.
Yet the danger of war is quite real as the Kurds genuinely fear being
evicted from the disputed territories and driven back into the KRG, behind
the Green Line established after the Kurdish uprising of 1991.
The Kurds nervously watch Iraqi troops reoccupy positions once held by
Saddam Hussein’s army. Last year, the Iraqi army sent north its 12th
Division, a 9,500-strong force that is at least 75 per cent Shia Arab, into
the Kirkuk oil province. “These troops are trying to encircle Kirkuk just as
Saddam used to do,” says Safeen Dizayee, the spokesman for the KDP. “They
are trying to push out our forces, both peshmerga [Kurdish fighters] and
Kurdish units in the regular Iraqi army.”
Anti-Kurdish feeling is running high in the rest of Iraq, as is fear of
Iraqi Arab revanchism in Kurdistan. Ethnic and sectarian hatred is strongest
in the disputed territories where different communities live side-by-side.
Nineveh province is like an Iraqi Lebanon in its diversity with its
complicated mix of Kurds, Kurdish speaking Yazidis, Shabak, Sunni Arabs,
Shia and Sunni Turkomans as well as Chaldean and Assyrian Christians.
Asked about the prospect of an Arab-Kurdish civil war, people from Mosul say
that for them it started six years ago. Some 2,000 Kurds from the city have
been killed and another 100,000 have fled. Until January this year, the
minority Kurds ruled the local council because the Sunni Arabs boycotted the
election of 2005. But in the latest election, the anti-Kurdish al-Hadba
party won and their leader, Atheel al-Najafi, is the new provincial
governor, though this does not mean he can enter Kurdish areas. When he
tried, on 8 May, to enter Bashiqa, a Yazidi-Chaldean town on the main road
from Mosul to Arbil, at the head of a convoy of 40 police cars Kurdish
peshmerga said they would shot to kill if he tried to go on.
Moderation is not in fashion along the “trigger line”. One Iraqi army
battalion commander has been dismissed and investigated for cowardice over a
confrontation with Kurdish security in January. It took place at
Altun-Kupri, a Kurdish-Turkoman town which occupies an important position on
the road between Arbil and Kirkuk. An Iraqi army patrol had suddenly
appeared in town and local Kurds and Kurdish police immediately took to the
streets to protest. Violence was only averted because the battalion
commander, now sacked for his moderation, ignored orders from his high
command to open fire.
In the disputed areas, people say they will fight for dilapidated villages
and infertile stretches of semi-desert which hardly seem worth dying for.
But the land here is more valuable than it looks. One of the reasons for
sensitivity about the exact position of the border separating Arabs from
Kurds is that the disputed territories lie on top of Iraq’s northern oil and
gas fields centred on Kirkuk. The forays by the Iraqi army towards Makhmur
and Altun Kupri had extra significance for the Kurds because both towns are
so close to these oilfields.
Kurds and Arabs in Iraq have the strength to thwart each other. The KRG has
awarded contracts for oil development to foreign companies which have found
oil, but the oil can only be exported using Baghdad government oil
pipelines. “Otherwise, they will have to carry it away in buckets,” says the
Iraqi Oil Minister, Hussein al-Shahristani. The Kurds counter that at least
one vital Iraqi oil pumping station is on their territory.
War between Arabs and Kurds in Iraq would doom the country as an independent
state. Such a conflict is not winnable by either side and each would seek
foreign allies. For all their brutality, Saddam Hussein and his predecessors
failed to crush the Kurds over 40 years. Differences over Kirkuk, the
disputed territories and control of oil run too deep to resolve quickly, but
after his long-delayed meeting with Kurdish leaders, Mr Maliki needs at
least to stop a further escalation of the Arab-Kurdish conflict.
Rebellious history: The Iraqi Kurds
*The Iraqi Kurds began revolting in 1919 after the British had seized what
was to become modern Iraq. The British wanted to include Kurdistan in Iraq
to create a defensible military line for the new country.
*From 1960-1975, the Kurds rebelled under the leadership of Mullah Barzani.
Saddam Hussein defeated them in 1975 when he convinced the shah of Iran to
abandon his support for the the Iraqi Kurds.
*Resistance resumed in 1980 when Saddam Hussein invaded Iran. In the
al-Anfal punishment campaign in 1988, the Iraqi Army massacred 180,000 Kurds
and destroyed 3,500 out of 4,000 villages.
*Days after Iraq’s defeat in Kuwait in 1991, the Kurds, under Massoud
Barzani of the Kurdistan Democratic Party and Jalal Talabani of the
Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, recaptured most of Kurdistan. An Iraqi
counter-attack led to US protection.
*The Kurds established an autonomous enclave but fought a civil war.
Supported by the US in 2003, they captured Kirkuk and Mosul and areas where
there is or was a Kurdish majority before ethnic cleansing
Rising Anti-Shi’ite Violence Leaves Iraq’s Stability in Doubt
Posted By Jason Ditz On August 10, 2009 @ 5:16 pm In Uncategorized | No
Top US officials publicly condemned today’s anti-Shi’ite bombings across
Iraq, which killed at least 50 and wounded hundreds of others. Still being
the second major string of bombings in the past few days, many are beginning
to doubt the Obama Administration’s narrative that these are isolated
incidents that do not represent a broader trend.
With nearly 1,000 reported casualties across the nation in the past week,
top adviser Colonel Timothy Reese’s admonishment that the continued presence
of 132,000 troops “isn’t yielding benefits commensurate with the effort and
is now generating its own opposition” must be ringing in the
administration’s ears, even if publicly they have dismissed the colonel’s
call to withdraw from the nation as soon as possible.
Ever growing popular opposition and a rising death toll don’t seem to be
hindering the claims of dramatic progress being made in the war over six
years after the initial US invasion. Still, while the president claims the
pullout is “on schedule” he has actually withdrawn relatively few from the
nation, even as he dramatically escalates the US war effort in Afghanistan.
Iraqi officials have been at least as confident, with Prime Minister Nouri
al-Maliki repeatedly insisting that the bombings would fail to return the
nation to the level of violence it saw in previous years. Yet he too is
leaving the door open to keeping US troops in the nation beyond 2011,
suggesting the rising conflict is throwing their timetables into doubt, at