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

Analyst: Joint-Arab Military Force Poses Perilous Challenge

Although international forces are desperately needed to counter the threat of the Islamic State group, analysts say conflicting alliances could escalate fighting More

Asia’s Middle Class Changes Demand for Wheat Grain Exporters

Changes in tastes and diets are boon for wheat exporters such as Australia and the United States More

S. African Comedian Taking Over Popular TV Show

Mixed-race comedian Trevor Noah, who is loved for his edgy jibes about race and language, is taking the helm from Jon Stewart at The Daily Show in US 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.
Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadistsi
X
Greg Flakus
March 30, 2015 6:48 PM
At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video With Coalition Airstrikes, Iraq Entering 'Last Page' of IS Battle

American warplanes joined Iraq's battle against the so-called 'Islamic State' in northern Iraq late Wednesday, as Iraqi ground troops launched a massive assault on Tikrit. Analysts say the offensive could take the coalition a step further towards Mosul, the largest city held by Islamic State forces. Others say it could also deepen already-dangerous sectarian tensions in the region. VOA's Heather Murdock has more from Cairo.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video DOJ: Illinois National Guard Soldier Tried to Join ISIS

U.S. federal law enforcement agents arrested two suburban Chicago men accused of trying to join ISIS overseas, while also plotting attacks in the United States. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, one of those arrested is a soldier of the Illinois National Guard.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

VOA Blogs

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