News / Middle East

US to Have Enhanced Civilian Presence in Iraq After Troop Withdrawal

An Iraqi Army soldier and a U.S. Army soldiers from Delta Co., 1st Combined Arms Battalion, 67th Armor Regiment stand guard during a joint patrol in Mosul, Iraq, March 2009 (file photo)
An Iraqi Army soldier and a U.S. Army soldiers from Delta Co., 1st Combined Arms Battalion, 67th Armor Regiment stand guard during a joint patrol in Mosul, Iraq, March 2009 (file photo)

Multimedia

Michael Bowman

U.S. officials and legislators say they are cautiously optimistic about Iraq’s ability to survive as a functioning democracy with reasonable levels of stability and security after the United States completes a troop withdrawal from the country by year’s end. The future of U.S.-Iraqi cooperation was the focus of a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing this week on Capitol Hill.

After hundreds of billions of dollars invested in Iraq and thousands of American lives lost, the final departure of U.S. troops will signal the completion of a major military endeavor and the beginning of a new test for both nations. Testifying before Congress, U.S. Ambassador to Iraq James Jeffrey spoke of the task ahead.

"We will either step up to the plate, finish the job, and build on the sacrifice made,” Ambassador Jeffrey said. “Or we will risk core U.S. national security interests, be pennywise and pound-foolish, and cede the field to al-Qaida and other dangerous regional influences."

The ambassador spoke of a window of opportunity to ensure that Iraq becomes, what he termed "a force for stability and moderation in a troubled region".

"We cannot afford to let the gains we have sacrificed too much for slip away," he added.

As the last American troops depart Iraq, the U.S. civilian staff is expected to more than double to help promote economic development and Iraqi security capabilities.

Safety concerns

A Senate committee report expresses concerns for the safety of U.S. personnel without military support. But the situation in Iraq looks encouraging, according to the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Democrat John Kerry of Massachusetts.

"Significant progress has been made in Iraq in the past four years,” said Senator Kerry. “More than 100,000 American troops have been withdrawn, and the security situation, though sometimes strained, has not unraveled. Forming a government [in Iraq] was obviously a long and contentious process. But the political factions kept their commitment to negotiation over violence."

US assistance

Senators of both parties pledged to fund expanded U.S. civilian efforts in Iraq. Senator Richard Lugar is the ranking Republican on the committee.

"Our ideal for Iraq is that it becomes a stable, pluralistic society that enjoys a genuinely representative government, maintains a self-sustaining economy, and cooperates with the United States and other like-minded nations to resist aggression and terrorism," said Senator Lugar.

Lugar said Iraq must rebuild its oil infrastructure and expand petroleum exports. He said a boost in oil revenue will enhance Iraq’s finances and its stability.

Progress

The commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, General Lloyd Austin, says Iraq is building on an increasingly stable foundation.

"Today, Iraq has the most-inclusive government in their nation’s history,” said General Austin. “And the security environment is the best it has been since 2003."

Observers acknowledge these gains, but some question Iraq’s ability to sustain them without a foreign troop presence. Foreign affairs analyst Michael O’Hanlon.

"Iraqis really have made amazing headway,” O’Hanlon said. “The problem is, they [Iraqis] are still not that far away, not that far removed, from a very destructive civil war, and, of course, from a very destructive Saddam Hussein regime prior to that."

O’Hanlon says Iraq would be wise to embrace a multi-national military presence, perhaps one authorized by the United Nations.

NEW: Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

Alaskans experiencing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more frequent and extensive wildfires, deteriorating glaciers, and swift shoreline erosion More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs