Wednesday 21 March 2018

Obama's haste to withdraw US troops would be disaster for Iraq

Con Coughlin

IN his haste to withdraw America's remaining combat troops from Iraq, President Barack Obama appears to have overlooked one rather vital consideration. The Iraqis are desperate for them to stay.

Iraq might be a very different place today from the country that was oppressed by Saddam Hussein's dictatorship, but it still has some way to go before it completes the transition to the functioning democracy the majority of Iraqis crave. When Tariq Aziz, Saddam's former apologist-in-chief, issues a stark warning from his Baghdad prison cell that his country will be thrown to the wolves if the Americans leave, we should all take notice.

Five months after Iraq's general election, the main political parties are still arguing over who should form the new government. This political vacuum has been filled with an upsurge in the sectarian violence that has plagued the country since Saddam's overthrow in the spring of 2003. Consequently, more civilians are being killed in Iraq today than in Afghanistan. The Iraqi authorities say 535 people were killed last month alone -- the highest casualty rate for two years -- while the eerie black-and-yellow emblem of al-Qa'ida has made an unwelcome return to the streets of downtown Baghdad.

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