Odierno: No Sign Iraqis Will Ask US to Stay

Iraq Commander Says "Never Say Never" to Staying Beyond 2011

Commander of US forces in Iraq General Ray Odierno said today that despite the recent violence he has yet to receive any indication that the Iraqi government was considering asking US troops to remain in the nation beyond the end of 2011.

Late last month Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said he thought it was a good idea to keep a “modest” military presence in Iraq beyond the end of 2011, when the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) agreed to in November of 2008 would require all American forces to leave.

Yet Gen. Odierno had tied the pullout to provincial elections which won’t be held until the end of the year previously, which would make it a bit early for the Iraqi government to determine if it needs a continued US military presence to keep it in power. Odierno left keeping the troops in Iraq an open question however, declaring “never say never.”

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for Antiwar.com. He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.