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 “More than 100,000 American troops have been withdrawn, and the security situation, though sometimes strained, has not unraveled.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

IS Militants Release 49 Turkish Hostages

Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency reports that no ransom was paid and no conditions accepted for the hostages' release; few details of the release are known More

Photogallery IS Attacks Send Thousands of Syrian Kurds Fleeing to Turkey

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says more than 300 Kurdish fighters crossed into Syria from Turkey to defend a Kurdish area from attack by the Islamic militants More

Video Sierra Leone's Ebola Lockdown Continues

Thousands of health workers are going door to door in the West African country of 6 million, informing people of how to avoid Ebola, handing out soap 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.
Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’i
X
Jeff Seldin
September 20, 2014 10:28 PM
Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid