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 “More than 100,000 American troops have been withdrawn, and the security situation, though sometimes strained, has not unraveled.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

China’s Influence Grows With New Infrastructure Bank

Multibillion-dollar China-backed and BRICS-supported Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank seen as possible challenger to such lenders as IMF, World Bank More

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

Rabbi Michel Serfaty makes the rounds in his friendship bus to encourage dialogue and break down barriers between the two groups More

Post-deal Iran Leaders Need 'Economic Momentum' to Solidify

Economists say deal could inject more than $100 billion into coffers - not enough to entirely rescue ailing economy - but maybe adequate to create 'economic momentum' 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.
US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impacti
X
Michael Bowman
June 28, 2015 10:05 PM
Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impact

Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Syrian Refugees Return to Tal Abyad

Syrian refugees in Turkey confirm they left their hometown of Tal Abyad because of intense fighting and coalition airstrikes, not because Kurdish fighters were engaged in ethnic cleansing, as some Turkish officials charged. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer, in Tal Abyad, finds that civilians coming back to the town agree, as we hear in this report narrated by Roger Wilkison.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Chemical-Sniffing Technology Fights Australia's Graffiti Vandals

Cities and towns all over the world spend huge amounts of resources battling graffiti writers who deface buildings, public transport vehicles and even monuments. Authorities in Sydney, Australia, hope a new chemical-sniffing technology finally will stop vandals from scribbling on walls in the passenger areas of commuter trains. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Cambodia Struggling to Curb Child Labor

Earlier this year a United Nations report found 10 percent of Cambodian children aged 7-14 are working – one of the highest rates in the region – and said one in four children in that age bracket are forced to quit school to help their families. Although the child labor rate has dropped over the past decade, Cambodia has a lot more to do – including keeping more children in school. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.

VOA Blogs