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

ASEAN Ministers Set to Push for South China Sea Agreements

According to documents obtained by VOA Khmer, ministers will stand up for 'freedom of navigation, unimpeded lawful maritime commerce, trade and over flight' More

Puerto Rico Defaults on $58M Debt Payment

Payment was due Saturday, default is first in country's 117 years as a United States possession More

Turkish Public Fears Jihadists More Than Kurds

Turkey facing twin threats of terrorism by Islamic State and PKK Kurdish separatists, says President Erdogan’s ruling AK Party 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.
Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Communityi
X
Sharon Behn
August 03, 2015 2:23 PM
A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs