Obama Refuses to Pick Sides after the US Withdrawal

US president Barack Obama marked the American troop withdrawal from Iraq's cities Tuesday, June 30, with this statement: “It's a part of our strategy to responsibly end the war by removing all American combat brigades from Iraq by next September and all of our troops from Iraq by the end of 2011.

“There are those who will test Iraqi security,” he said. “I'm confident that those forces will fail. The future belongs to those who build, not those who destroy.”

President Obama was obviously aiming for a clear distinction between Iraqi and American security, although the US military in Iraq – from Baghdad headquarters down to the commanders of the 39 rural bases to which the bulk of the 130,000 US troops have withdrawn – see no way to separate the two.

Their redeployment outside the cities is equally ambivalent, DEBKA-Net-Weekly military sources report.

Some have not reached the new facilities; they are manning outposts only 10-15 km from the cities they departed to maintain American military control of road access; others are stationed at potential flashpoint areas between Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds.

The US command has arrayed the forces retired from Iraqi towns for the object of averting likely outbreaks of communal strife in the weeks to come.

Hardly a single American or Iraqi officer believes the 650,000 Iraqi troops now in control are up to maintaining security in Iraq's cities, fighting terrorists and fending off a civil war. It is generally expected that as the clock ticks away for the departure of the last US soldier from Iraq in 2011, all three menaces will advance until they threaten Iraq's unity under the central government in Baghdad.


Partition is not a live debate in the administration


As 2011 draws near, the 39 US bases will find themselves isolated from each other and stranded in the middle of a fiery circle of civilian warfare. Nouri al-Maliki's government may be reduced to ruling only parts of Baghdad.

In view of this dire prospect, Obama has entrusted vice president Joseph Biden with the task of supervising communal and factional reconciliation in Iraq – without however acting as mediator.

“I think he will be involved in working with Shia, Sunni and Kurd to achieve political reconciliation. I would hesitate to use the term 'mediator,' “said White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs at his Tuesday 30.6 briefing: “somebody who I think can oversee that we are making progress, that our attention and our resources are matched by what we see needs to happen. I think that he's well suited to do that.”

Although the seeds of civil have begun sprouting in different parts of Iraq ahead of the US military exit, Obama has decided in advance not to intervene or take sides.

In his past function as senator, Biden authored a paper which advocated a three-way partition of Iraq on communal lines to pacify the country. The White House spokesman made it clear that the idea of Iraq's partition “is no longer a subject of live debate within the administration.”

But that does not mean it has been removed from the Iraqi vocabulary.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email