Iraq’s Government, Not Obama, Called Time on the U.S. Troop Presence

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A file photo dated 22 June 2011 shows a US soldier (C) taking out the American flag as US Army personnel is preparing to leave Mendin military base in the Iraq-Iran borders, southern Iraq. (Haider Al-Assadee / EPA)

President Barack Obama’s announcement on Friday that all 40,000 U.S. troops still in Iraq will leave the country by New Year’s Eve will, inevitably, draw howls of derision from GOP presidential hopefuls — this is, after all, early election season. But the decision to leave Iraq by that date was not actually taken by President Obama — it was taken by President George W. Bush, and by the Iraqi government. 

In one of his final acts in office, President Bush in December of 2008 had signed a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) with the Iraqi government that set the clock ticking on ending the war he’d launched in March of 2003. The SOFA provided a legal basis for the presence of U.S. forces in Iraq after the United Nations Security Council mandate for the occupation mission expired at the end of 2008. But it required that all U.S. forces be  gone from Iraq by January 1, 2012, unless the Iraqi government was willing to negotiate a new agreement that would extend their mandate. And as Middle East historian Juan Cole has noted, “Bush had to sign what the [Iraqi] parliament gave him or face the prospect that U.S. troops would have to leave by 31 December, 2008, something that would have been interpreted as a defeat… Bush and his generals clearly expected, however, that over time Washington would be able to wriggle out of the treaty and would find a way to keep a division or so in Iraq past that deadline.”

But ending the U.S. troop presence in Iraq was an overwhelmingly popular demand among Iraqis, and Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki appears to have been unwilling to take the political risk of extending it. While he was inclined to see a small number of American soldiers stay behind to continue mentoring Iraqi forces, the likes of Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, on whose support Maliki’s ruling coalition depends, were having none of it. Even the Obama Administration’s plan to keep some 3,000 trainers behind failed because the Iraqis were unwilling to grant them the legal immunity from local prosecution that is common to SOF agreements in most countries where U.S. forces are based.

So, while U.S. commanders would have liked to have kept a division or more behind in Iraq to face any contingencies — and, increasingly, Administration figures had begun citing the challenge of Iran, next door — it was Iraqi democracy that put the kibosh on that goal. The Bush Administration had agreed in 2004 to restore Iraqi sovereignty, and in 2005 put the country’s elected government in charge of shaping its destiny. But President Bush hadn’t anticipated that Iraqi democracy would see pro-U.S. parties sidelined and would, instead, consistently return governments closer to Tehran than they are to Washington. Contra expectations, a democratic Iraq has turned out to be at odds with much of U.S. regional strategy — first and foremost its campaign to isolate Iran.

The Iraq that U.S. forces will leave behind is far from stable, and the mounting tension between Iran and Saudi Arabia could well see a renewed flare-up of Iraq’s disastrous sectarian civil war. A jihadist Sunni insurgency has reasserted itself in recent months with a steady uptick in terror attacks, and it could become a vehicle for Saudi proxy warfare against Iran, which backs the Maliki government and various Shi’ite political and military formations, including Sadr’s. Kurdish-Arab tensions are growing in the north, where the fate of such contested cities as Kirkuk remains unresolved and a source of mounting security danger. Iraq’s political future, also, remains contested, with sectarian and ethnic rivalries reflected in the continued failure to pass a low regulating the sharing of oil revenues, and mounting anxiety over the increasingly authoritarian approach of Prime Minister Maliki.

Iraq could yet fail as a state. But it’s not as if the presence of 40,000 U.S. troops has been all that’s holding it together: Those forces no longer patrol Iraq’s cities, and are mostly involved in mentoring Iraqi units, although they have played a major role in mediating Arab-Kurdish conflicts in the north.

Given the unresolved political conflicts that continue to plague the country even after its transition to democratic government — and in light of the rising levels of regional tension — chances are high that the U.S. withdrawal will be preceded and followed by a sharp uptick in violence. Shi’ite insurgent groups are likely to escalate attacks on U.S. forces, hoping to claim credit for driving out the Americans — and, no doubt, to please their Iranian backers. Sunni insurgent groups are likely to raise their own game, in order to challenge the Shi’ite dominated government and demonstrate its inability to ensure security — an exercise that will suit the agenda of their own backers.

The key to ensuring security after a U.S. withdrawal has always been achieving a regional consensus on Iraq that could set the terms for political compromise inside Iraq — or, at least, limit the likelihood of renewed violence. Unfortunately, instead, that withdrawal coincides with a sharp escalation in the Saudi-Iranian cold war, and that will spell trouble for Iraq.

Not that the U.S. will be out of the picture, by any stretch of the imagination. As things stand, the U.S. embassy in Iraq will have 17,000 employees — including at least 5,000 “security contractors”, i.e. non-uniformed military personnel. It’s not hard to imagine that future training needs of the Iraqi military will be undertaken by privateers rather than under the auspices of the Pentagon. And that the CIA — now under the command of Gen. David Petraeus, former U.S. commander in Iraq — will play a more active role in pursuing U.S. objectives on the ground and in the neighborhood.

But as of December 31, no more American soldiers will be doing tours of duty in Iraq. The war that ousted Saddam Hussein, unleashing an insurgency that left 4,500 Americans and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis dead, and which will cost the U.S. upwards of $1 trillion, is finally over. Historians will note that the U.S. invasion of Iraq precipitated dramatic changes across the Middle East political landscape in the ensuing decade. But many of those changes were hardly the ones the war’s authors had in mind.

32 comments
NvBlue1
NvBlue1

Iraqi forces didn't even try to defend "their country."  They had ISIL outnumbered 20 to 1 as well as having superior armament and training, but when faced with a battle, they laid down their arms and went home.  Iraq has never been a real country since its artificial inception after WW1. Iraqis have next to zero national loyalty.  Their loyalty is to their individual tribe and sect.  On an individual basis they had no motivation to fight ISIL.  It was so much easier and safer for them to just go home.  They are clearly not ready to be a country as we know it.  Iraq needs to be broken down into three pieces and that is probably what will eventually happen.  ISIL will be defeated, but it needs to be done by Arabs not Americans.  All the Obama haters can rant till the cows come home, but if you want to blame an American for the failure in Iraq you should blame Bush and the incompetency of his staff.  He and Malalki signed the withdrawal agreement way back in Oct. of 2008.

JosephArdito
JosephArdito

To disarm while the Trojan Horse remains in Washington is suicidal.


Obama aka Barry Sotero the criminal traitor fraud "cannot be trusted" we know nothing about this manchurian candidate who sealed his personal records and procured the presidency by connivances, frauds, perjuries, racism and rigged elections.


Obama aka Barry Sotero the criminal traitor fraud's attorneys had advised and "recommended" that the fraud seal his personal records or be removed, prosecuted and convicted on multiple felonies.


Obama aka Barry Sotero the criminal traitor fraud secured his rigged elections by contracting the marxist billionaire George Soros who's marxist company in Spain counted the United States presidential electoral votes this was in fact a blatant violation of free elections and American Sovereignty and was done solely to evade a valid recount, this in fact caused the criminal coup d'e tat of America.


Obama aka Barry Sotero the criminal traitor fraud has armed, funded and supported multiple terrorist organizations including and not limited to the Muslim Brotherhood and ISIS that seek the annihilation of America.


Obama aka Barry Sotero has pardoned and released 6 high ranking terrorists from Guantanamo Bay detention facility that have access to the training camps in the United States and are back and forth in the middle east killing American soldiers.


"One too many massacres, one too many stand down orders and one too many acts of treason, one too many violations of our borders, laws and constitution" this clearly demonstrates Obama aka Barry Sotero the criminal traitor fraud's motives of being the Trojan Horse of Terrorism.


Open borders have paved the way for the Mexican cartels 2 trillion dollar a year drug trade, it has also paved the way for terrorists (anti-Americans), criminals and illegals to evade detection and entry into the United States.


The only inferences drawn by the "recent and ongoing massacres, acts of treason and human sacrifices" in the United States at this time is that the terrorist are now working hand in hand with Obama aka Barry Sotero the criminal traitor fraud who seeks by terrorists actions in orchestrating the disarmament of our "true American patriots" while the terrorist camps throughout the United States prepare with state of the art weapons to annihilate Americans.


The terrorists refugees have been deceptively arriving every day into the United States without the "consent of the people" by Obama aka Barry Sotero the criminal traitor fraud and his terroristic reign of terror to fill his now "35 active terrorist camps" throughout the country that have been armed, funded and trained to kill Americans.


http://nation.foxnews.com/…/video-muslim-training-guerilla-…


Obama aka Barry Sotero the criminal traitor fraud and his terroristic reign of terror illegally squatting in the White House "must" be removed, audited, prosecuted, convicted and hanged for this high treasons, felonies, frauds and the trillion dollar lootings of America's fortune in the interest of justice and national security.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=44vzMNG2fZc&feature=share


Joseph Christian Henry Ardito

JulieHarbinger
JulieHarbinger

A recent release by the State Department may serve as one of the most damning indictments of Barack Obama’s decision to withdraw American troops from Iraq in 2011. Why, because of what this release has admitted about the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) or Daesh. For the sake of this article, I’ll just use ISIS.

 The release, which is announcing a $5 million reward for information leading to the capture (or death) of a senior member of ISIS, says, “Senior ISIL Border Chief Abu-Muhammad al-Shimali has been associated with ISIL, formerly known as al-Qaida in Iraq, since 2005.”

If you remember the Iraq war, you’d remember that American troops faced off against al-Qaeda in Iraq. Places like Ramadi, Fallujah, and Anbar – battles where American troops gave all – were fought to defeat al-Qaeda in Iraq, and its successor, the Islamic State of Iraq. In 2010, with an 18 April raid that took out two of that group’s bigwigs, they were on the ropes. Until the 2011 withdrawal, that is.

http://dailycaller.com/2015/11/20/state-dept-memo-proves-george-w-bush-was-right-after-all/

JohnLevitt
JohnLevitt

@JulieHarbinger


Did you fail reading comprehension? They had to leave. The only reason the insurgency was weakened is because US paid and made a deal with Shia and Sunni to fight them. US withdrawal was part of that deal.And if US didn't obey it,the insurgency would ramp back up on both sides. 

EricEgan
EricEgan

Before and during the pullout you acted like Obama was a superhero for keeping his campaign promise. He was warned repeatedly this would happen, and it has, a total cluster F. Nice try hiding behind the SOFA you cowards. We could have stayed if he wanted to. We know how to do this, we should have been there for the next 40-50 years and used their oil money to do it.

I know, I know NOTHING is Obamas fault in your eyes. But if you opened them...

ChuckFinley1
ChuckFinley1

Iran want's everyone who isn't a Muslim dead.  It's very simple. 


JeffWallace
JeffWallace

Again, TIME comes to the aid of the left, defending, covering-up, deflecting and whatever it takes to protect their political and ideological bedfellows.

BobGlover1
BobGlover1

Yes, of course the Iraqi government "called time" on the American occupation of its nation. We appeared to be extremely disinterested in negotiating a status of forces agreement that would have allows U. S. troops to remain there. Better that should invade and occupy a country that posed no threat to our national security interests and no real threat to American allies in the Middle East, shatter the country's infrastructure-then compound that error by withdrawing all American combat troops long before the Iraqi security forces were capable of defending their country and before the Iraqi people were again capable of self governance. In our mad, hesdlong, chain driven rush to end the combat mission, we created a power vacuum that sucked in all of the available trash in the neighborhood and left a fertile ground, out of which ISIS grew. We helped to create this mess that now exists. Now, we get to clean it up.

NvBlue1
NvBlue1

@BobGlover1  Iraqi forces didn't even try to defend "their country."  They had ISIL outnumbered 20 to 1 as well as having superior armament and training, but when faced with a battle, they laid down their arms and went home.  Iraq has never been a real country since its artificial inception after WW1. Iraqis have next to zero national loyalty.  Their loyalty is to their individual tribe and sect.  On an individual basis they had no motivation to fight ISIL.  It was so much easier and safer for them to just go home.  They are clearly not ready to be a country as we know it.  Iraq needs to be broken down into three pieces and that is probably what will eventually happen.  ISIL will be defeated, but it needs to be done by Arabs not Americans.  All the Obama haters can rant till the cows come home, but if you want to blame an American for the failure in Iraq you should blame Bush and the incompetency of his staff.  He and Malalki signed the withdrawal agreement way back in Oct. of 2008.

3tsand2ms
3tsand2ms

Yes. .. Of course! Leave it to TIME to try & get their guy off the hook. Any sensible person not only realizès what's going on here but REFUSES to accept the BS narrative that they are slinging. Problem is... we're lacking in sensible people in this Country as of late

RubyWalterClemente
RubyWalterClemente

11:39 AM

Presidential candidate Barack Obama said Wednesday that he and other leading congressional Democrats were seeking ways to “ratchet up the pressure” on President Bush to set a timetable to withdraw U.S. forces from Iraq.

“The American people have said ‘enough,’” Obama, the junior senator from Illinois, said in an interview with NBC News’ David Gregory on MSNBC’s “Hardball.” A new Associated Press-Ipsos poll indicates that a majority of Americans believed going to war in Iraq was a mistake.

The House and the Senate have passed different versions of bills to fund the military campaign in Iraq and Afghanistan, both of which seek to limit the U.S. deployment. The Senate version would urge, but not mandate, that most troops be withdrawn by March 31, while the House version would set a hard deadline to pull them out by Sept. 1, 2008.

MikeAlan
MikeAlan

Then why was Obama taking credit for ending the war?

RoachRoach3
RoachRoach3

LOL LOL.. so once again President Obama is trying to rewrite history. It wasn't that long ago VP Joe Biden.. Obama's lap dog.. was bragging how Iraq was the Obama's administration's "greatest success". Of course, Ol' Joe was trying to ride the relative calm created by Bush at the time. But my, my, look how things have turned for Obama and Joe. 


It didn't take a rocket scientist to figure this one out.

ickysdad
ickysdad

@RoachRoach3 Well all presidents try to rewrite history for that matter or take credit for things they really had no part in.....I remember 4 years(August,2010) ago some GOP posters on another forum telling some Democrat posters that Obama couldn't take credit for troops being pulled out of Iraq because Bush had done negotiated it. OH but now with ISIS taking over large parts of Iraq some of these same posters on said forum,along with politicians one is hearing in the media, are saying Obama screwed the pooch by pulling troops out according to the Status of Forces Agreement .


Oh by the way what do you mean by the ' riding out the calm created by Bush at the time" ????. You think maybe some of what's happening in Iraq isn't because of decisions made by Bush? Wasn't the current president of Iraq originally put in power by a governor appointed by Bush?

ickysdad
ickysdad

@RoachRoach3 Oh one other thing it seems this article just states Obama announcing the with drawl by 12/31/2011 it doesn't say he is taking credit does it? You think if McCain would have won in 2008 he might just of had a press conference making the same announcement?

ickysdad
ickysdad

@RoachRoach3 I agree politicians will sometimes take credit for something that actually was the result of somebody's else work and sometimes it may come back to bite them but the biggest mistake was ever going into Iraq in the first place that certainly wasn't anything Obama had anything to do with.

JulieHarbinger
JulieHarbinger

@ickysdad @RoachRoach3 - If the americans had remained steadfast and finished the job properly, which they had started, then there would have been no opportunity for ISIS to rise today, since the Iraq war was the element that kept them at bay, and virtually finished them off, but America stopped short just of the goal post, as it often seems to do, mainly due to pressures placed on the state, by people like Obama in the case of Iraq.

NancyWelliverHulbert
NancyWelliverHulbert

Time must be supporting Obama because this story is only half true, Obama said as early as 2007 while a Senator that it should be done. You morons need to read your own history. Obama voted to pull troops while he was campaigning for the presidency dumb ass.

danrobin57
danrobin57

Then when we turned it right back over to consumers they would have a civilization what would definitely search more like Dubai or Kuwait than what it looks like today. They would need by subsequently fifteen billion barrels of oil flowing out per year, as well as all the money they needed in order to maintain your strong army for defense, plus a stable society and federal government. If that would've happened, I need zero doubt that the lots of sects would have gotten along, and enjoyed financial prosperity. http://www.primeblog.us/2013/07/unique-bootcamp-workouts.html

JulieHarbinger
JulieHarbinger

@danrobin57 - America contributed billions along with training to build up the Iraqi defense forces so that they could knock out the perpetual and numerous muslim militia gangs acting like warlords in emulation of mahomet, the false prophet.  Billions of western investments have been poured into the Middle East to create prosperity.  The factual truth is that the islamic ideology is based on perpetual war, muslims against muslims, all in a bid to be the group that leads the next caliphate, which is being established to fulfill the promise of mahomet, that muslims would not be without a caliphate, caliph (pope) for more than 100 years.  As far as I can see, the ones withholding the billions are the royal arab muslim oil sheiks and their tribes, while the rest of the muslims live in poverty.