The U.S. Defense Department says that it's cancelling the deployment of
a 3,500-member Army brigade to Iraq in January, amid "improving
security." Some violence continues, however, such as the explosion
Saturday on a key highway bridge linking Iraq to Jordan and Syria.
U.S. Army brigade, based at Fort Drum, New York, had been scheduled to
replace another unit, due to leave Iraq at the start of next year.
Department officials stressed that the decision was based on security
improvements and the increasing capabilities of Iraq's own security
Iraq is due to hold parliamentary elections in January,
2010 but ongoing friction between the country's different ethnic and
religious communities is a threat to security and political stability
in the country.
Sporadic violence, including a suicide bombing
attack Saturday on a key bridge linking Iraq with Syria and Jordan,
continues to hamper both security and the political process. It was the
second time that the same bridge, located near the western city of
Ramadi, had been targeted in the past two years.
in Ramadi complained that the early-morning explosion, which severely
damaged the bridge, was intended to cause chaos by disrupting travel,
commerce and trade:
He says that the highway, where the bridge
was blown up, links Iraq with the outside world, and it has
repercussions on transport, stability and the security situation. He
said it also means that goods imported from outside the country will be
There were also attacks on Saturday west of Baghdad, just outside of Fallujah, and in the northern city of Mosul.
Khattar Abou Diab, who teaches political science at the University of
Paris, says that while the security situation in Iraq has improved, in
general, it remains fragile and subject to periodic violence:
says that the situation in Iraq at the moment is ambiguous with signs
of overall improvement but a definite fragility of security in places,
as witnessed by recent explosions, including the destruction of the
highway bridge (Saturday) and the August 19th explosions in Baghdad. He
points out that while Iraq's security no longer requires a massive
presence of U.S. and Western troops, much depends on the outcome of
elections in January, and the easing of tensions between Kurds and
Arabs, Sunnis and Shi'ites, and even within the Shi'ite community
itself. U.S. achievements in Iraq, he argues, are fragile and depend on
harmony between Iraqis and a halt to infiltration along Iraq's borders.
are currently 119,000 U.S. troops in Iraq. Under a US-Iraq security
pact, signed last November, all U.S. combat troops are due to leave the
country by August of 2010. Advisors and training forces are scheduled
to leave in 2011.