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Aug 12th, 2010

Top Iraq General: U.S. Army ‘Must Stay’ Until 2020

Commander expresses concerns about readiness as U.S. forces prepare to exit


Iraq general: U.S. should stay until 2020 (MSNBC, Aug. 12, 2010) — Iraq’s top general says U.S. forces need to stay in Iraq until 2020 because his forces won’t be ready until then. NBC’s Jim Miklaszewski reports. (01:34)

The Associated Press and Reuters via
Aug. 12, 2010

LONDON — The commander of Iraq’s military is calling for U.S. forces to stay in the country for another decade, reinforcing his stance that his country’s military won’t be able to secure the nation on their own after U.S. troops leave.

“At this point, the withdrawal is going well, because they are still here, but the problem will start after 2011,” Gen. Babaker Shawkat Zebari said at a defense conference in Baghdad, according to the BBC.

“The politicians must find other ways to fill the void after 2011… If I were asked about the withdrawal, I would say to politicians: the U.S. army must stay until the Iraqi army is fully ready in 2020,” the BBC reported.

Under the security pact between Baghdad and Washington, all U.S. troops are scheduled to leave by the end of next year. …

He pointed out that the U.S. military maintains a presence in other Middle Eastern countries.

“Look at the Turks, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain,” he told the AP. “All of these countries have American bases under bilateral agreements. And I don’t think we should be afraid of that idea.” …

U.S. commanders say violence is down by more than half since a year ago, when American troops pulled out of Iraqi cities, and has dropped 90 percent since October 2007 — the peak of the U.S. military surge in Iraq.

But bombings still happen almost daily across Iraq, often targeting the security forces. Drive-by shootings and kidnappings are common. And despite at least $22 billion the U.S. has spent on training and equipping the forces since 2004, many of the problems that have long plagued the army and police remain unresolved. …

Image: Iraq's Army Chief Zebari and U.S. Lieutenant General Barbero hold a news conference at an Iraqi military base in Kirkuk
Iraq’s Army Chief Babakir Zebari (left) and U.S. Lieutenant General Michael D. Barbero hold a news conference at an Iraqi military base in Kirkuk, 150 miles north of Baghdad, on Tuesday. (Photo credit: Thaier Al-Sudani / Reuters)

Sectarian tensions

[There] remain deep gaps in training and equipment for the roughly 675,000 members of the security forces. Even more important, sectarian and ethnic divisions among various security branches have been only superficially addressed and threaten to re-ignite tensions.

Nationally, the predominantly Shiite federal police became notorious during the sectarian conflict of 2006-2007, when officers allegedly worked alongside Shiite militias that kidnapped and murdered thousands of Sunnis. Interior Minister Jawad Bolani has since purged many of the most ardently sectarian commanders. But little has been done to change the heavy Shiite dominance.

Further stoking sectarian tensions was the April discovery of a secret prison in Baghdad where Sunni terrorism suspects were tortured. The prison was shut under U.S. pressure. …

The concerns about security readiness are exacerbated by the political disarray resulting from the inconclusive March parliamentary elections. Although a Sunni-backed party narrowly topped the poll, Sunnis stand to be sidelined anew after Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki allied with other Shiites in a grab for parliamentary power.

So Iraq is likely to be without a new government when the American combat role ends, which U.S. officials have said will likely cause an uptick in violence as al-Qaida insurgents exploit the situation. …


Related report on this site

Iraq: 6 Years On, 10 More Years (May 27, 2009)

Section 60 at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va., where many of the fallen service members from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are buried, Memorial Day, Monday, May 25, 2009. (Photo credit: Jacquelyn Martin / AP)


FROM THE ARCHIVES: One Year Ago — August 12, 2009

Image: Grieving in Mosul
Women share their grief following a bomb attack in Mosul, northern Iraq, on Monday, Aug. 10, 2009. (Photo credit: Nawras al-Ta’ei / EPA)

Sustained Iraqi Insurgency

One year ago today, I reported that dozens of Iraqis were killed and hundreds wounded in a spate of bombings, raising fears of a sustained insurgent campaign aimed at provoking new sectarian tensions.


FROM THE ARCHIVES: Two Years Ago — August 12, 2008

On the Campaign Trail: Day 29

With my sister and her daughter Inge, Paris, July 10, 2008.

Two years ago today, on the 29th day of my 2008 campaign against U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann in Minnesota’s 6th Congressional District, I took a one-day break from my 100-mile Sixth District Walking Tour to highlight an emerging threat in Iraq, the mujahidaat: female suicide bombers motivated by revenge for family members killed by U.S. and Iraqi forces.

6 Responses to “Iraq War: ‘Ten More Years’”
  1. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » Horrific Baghdad Bombing Says:

    […] Iraq’s military commander, Gen. Babaker Shawkat Zebari, acknowledged in August 2010 that his army may not be ready to defend the nation until 2020. […]

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