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Iraq – The new “forgotten war”

Published on: April 11th 2009 22:12:03

As the war in Afghanistan is ramped up, the Administration continues to prepare for a withdrawal in Iraq. With British forces turning over command of military operations in Basra to US troops on March 31st, the war effort is inevitably winding down. In a recent interview President Obama reemphasized the Administration’s plans of a gradual military drawdown through Iraq’s national elections in late 2009. With an end to the US combat mission set for August 2010 and a full withdrawal planned by the end of 2011, US forces are steadily being redeployed to Afghanistan. Even though violence is at its lowest since the war began, Iraqis worry that their war may be just beginning. Rising tensions between Sunni Arabs and Kurds in northern Iraq after January's provincial elections are evidence to the fact that little resolution has been found on core political issues. With two US brigades set to leave the Al-Anbar province this year, concerns are rising about potential surges in violence. In the same tenor, US military commanders have warned that if the departure is not implemented carefully, the gains of the past two years may be undone. Increased hostilities are, however, unlikely to change the Administration’s posture about withdrawal. A senior but newly appointed Pentagon official told us of his concerns: “The SOFA (Status of Forces Agreement) has us now in a disadvantageous position and the recent incident in which US forces were used to assist Iraqi government troops in action against a “sons of Iraq” (members of the Sunni Awakening) is a prime example. The Maliki government is determined to keep the Sunnis out of power. Its an inevitable fight which the White House wants to avoid. I hope we can!”

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