Ambassador Christopher Hill was the latest US official to declare that the nation intends to comply with the requirement of the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) with Iraq that all troops would be out of Iraq’s cities by June 30. This would include the cities of Baghdad and Mosul.
But according to US army commanders in the Mosul area, there is enormous confusion about exactly what this requirement actually means, and have cautioned that the Iraqi government has ‘created a false impression among Iraqi citizens that American troops will no longer be seen on Mosul’s streets when, in fact, they will.’
In reality the troops will be in bases along the outskirts of the city, and they are urging Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to give them exact guidelines regarding what they can and cannot do. “All of the battalion guys have concerns,” one commander noted, “all we have at the moment is the security agreement, and all that says is ‘no unilateral patrols’.”
There has been considerable concern about the trustworthiness of the Mosul police, and likewise serious doubts about the political appointees in the Iraqi military positions around the city. For Nineveh provincial governor Atheel al-Nujaifi, the pullout can’t come soon enough however. “A US withdrawal will reduce the number of targets,” the governor insisted, noting that a number of the attacks have been targeted at the troops.