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 “More than 100,000 American troops have been withdrawn, and the security situation, though sometimes strained, has not unraveled.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

Myanmar Fighting Poses Dilemma for China

To gain some insight into conflict, VOA’s Steve Herman spoke with Min Zaw Oo, director of ceasefire negotiation and implementation at Myanmar Peace Center More

Australia Concerned Over Islamic State 'Brides'

Canberra believes there are between 30 and 40 Australian women who have taken part in terror attacks or are supporting the Islamic State terror network More

Recreational Marijuana Use Now Legal in Washington, DC

Law allows adults 21 and over to privately possess and smoke 0.05 kilogram of pot, and to grow small amounts of the plant 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 Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More