Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Iraq: Staying the Course?

We've been in Iraq now for two and one half years. The American casualties continue to mount and the insurgent attacks keep coming. We never managed to establish security in the country and while some in Iraq did initially greet us as liberators, little of that sentiment seems to remain. We are now staying in the country because we need "to get the job done." However, one must wonder if the major impediment to getting the job done is our presence. Is it not possible animosity towards the American presence is a major cause of the civil strife in Iraq. This article would seem to indicate that this may well be the case.

Well known as an insurgent stronghold and the site of attacks and bombings, this town 25 kilometres northeast of Baquba has enjoyed several months of calm. Police, residents and insurgents here all say the reason for this is clear: Iraqi security forces are patrolling the streets, not the Americans.

“Because there are no Americans, nothing will happen. But if they come in, the mujahedin will flow out to confront them and run them out of town,” said Fahad al-Kabi, an elderly man sitting outside a café. “It’s better that the people of the town and the Iraqi forces are in control.”

The article describes the situation in Buhruz, a small Iraqi town. It would appear that in Buhruz at least the absence of American forces are an essential element to maintaining the peace.

Falah Rashid, a farmer, said the townspeople support the security forces, so long as the Americans aren’t involved.

“It’s fine for Iraqi forces to restore stability in our town. They are our children and relatives and we help them by offering them what they need,”said Rashid. “We like peace, but we don’t want the occupier to come, arresting our women and children. We are a conservative people. We have our tribal traditions and we don’t like the Americans.”

It has been argued that we really ought to consider declaring a plan to pull out of Iraq as a means of pushing the Iraqis to take seriously the job of developing an effective police force and army. This article would indicate that starting to withdraw will actually help the Iraqis in this mission. The Bush Administration continues to suggest that any plan to withdraw will be "cutting and running" which will result in the collapse of Iraq into civil war. However, it seems that in the first place Iraq is already descending into civil war and secondly our departure might well help stabilize the country.

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