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.
TEXT SIZE - +

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

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 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.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid