News / Middle East

Iraq Faces Many Challenges After US Military Withdrawal

US Army soldiers from the 1st Cavalry Division, the last soldiers to leave Iraq, arrive at Camp Virginia, Kuwait, Dec. 18, 2011.
US Army soldiers from the 1st Cavalry Division, the last soldiers to leave Iraq, arrive at Camp Virginia, Kuwait, Dec. 18, 2011.

After almost nine years of war, U.S. combat troops are no longer in Iraq. In this report, VOA Senior Correspondent Andre de Nesnera spoke with three former high-ranking U.S. government officials about challenges facing Iraq now that the U.S. is no longer there.

The last American soldier left Iraq last month, leaving behind a country that President Barack Obama described as “sovereign, stable and self-reliant.”

The U.S. withdrawal fulfills a promise made by President Obama. In addition, the pullout was a subject of debate, with Iraqi leaders wanting a U.S. contingent to stay in place. But the Iraqi government refused to grant these troops immunity from prosecution under Iraqi law, as requested by Washington.

Scene of violence

Since the U.S. withdrawal, Iraq has been facing an escalating political crisis and has been the scene of numerous bombings.

Nevertheless, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, appearing on the CBS Face the Nation news program January 8, sounded a positive note, saying the United States is confident the Iraqi government and security forces are capable of dealing with security threats.

However, former Defense Secretary William Cohen disagrees. “I don’t think Iraq is capable, at this point, of defending itself from external threats or necessarily coping with those within. They don’t have the air defense systems," he said. "They don’t have the air assets. They don’t have the ground assets. They don’t have the counterintelligence capability that we supplied - so I think that it’s going to be a challenge for them.”

Cohen concedes that some U.S. troops will stay in the area. “We will redeploy some of our forces to other countries in the region - but it’s not the same as being on the spot and being able to come to their assistance at a moment’s notice,” he said.

Former National Security Adviser General Brent Scowcroft says U.S. troops should have stayed longer in Iraq.

“Because I think Iraq still has a difficult time getting itself together and making the compromises that are necessary to have a functioning system," he said. "Those compromises are probably easier to make in the embrace of a U.S. presence where they are likely to be willing to make adjustments. I’m afraid now that they are on their own, those adjustments might be harder to make. That’s what worries me.”

Key issues

General Scowcroft lists some of the key issues facing the Iraqi government.

“Compromises on how to handle oil income. What is the nature of the federalism of the system? How do you share power? Those are very difficult issues. And to make the necessary concessions - it’s easier when we were there,” he said.

Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton sees another threat to Iraq. “The influence, the danger, the risk of subversion from Iran and the risk of a return on a very opportunistic basis by al-Qaida in Iraq, I think is substantial,” he said.

And, says Bolton, the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq is not a positive sign for the Arab countries in the Gulf.

“They see the U.S. pulling out and they worry about their own stability, right there in a dangerous neighborhood across the Gulf from Iran,” he said.

Experts say Iran’s suspected nuclear weapons program does not help foster regional stability. And along with an unstable Iraq, they say, it likely signals a long period of volatility.

You May Like

Video British Fighters on Frontline of Islamic State Information War

It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for Islamic State alongside other foreign jihadists More

Pakistan's Political Turmoil Again Shines Spotlight on Military

Thousands of protesters calling for PM Sharif to step down continue protests in front of parliament, as critics fear political impasse could spur another military coup More

Photogallery Ebola Quarantines Spark Anxiety in Liberian Capital

Food prices rise sharply as residents attempting purchases clash with security forces, leaving one person dead 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.
Native Bees May Help Save Cropsi
X
Deborah Block
August 22, 2014 12:23 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video Native Bees May Help Save Crops

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video US Defense Officials Plan for Long-Term Strategy to Contain Islamic State

U.S. defense officials say American air strikes in Iraq have helped deter Islamic State militants for the time being, but that a broad international effort is needed to defeat the extremists permanently. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Thursday that the group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, is better organized, and financially and militarily stronger than any other known terrorist group. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads in Southeast Asia

On Thailand’s border with Myanmar, also known as Burma, a malaria research and treatment clinic is stepping up efforts to eliminate a drug-resistant form of the parasite - before it spreads abroad. Steve Sandford reports from Mae Sot, Thailand.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid