Speaking with Iraqi officials on the second day of his three day visit, Vice President Joe Biden warned that the United States might reconsider its military commitment to the nation if “Iraq were to revert to sectarian violence or engage in ethnic violence,” insisting that the “American people would have no interest” in going through that situation yet again.
Violence in the nation has been on the rise in recent months, and has primarily been sectarian violence targeting Shi’ite neighborhoods and religious sites. Biden did not make it clear at what level the death toll would have to be to constitute a return to sectarian violence, though nearly 400 were killed last month alone.
Biden did not exactly receive a warm welcome on the streets of Baghdad, as supporters of Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr took to the streets of Sadr City, chanting “no, no American, no, no occupation” and burning an American flag.
The US still has 131,000 soldiers in Iraq, and is planning to keep over 90% of them in the nation through next year. The Obama Administration has pledged to get the level to 50,000 by August 2010, but a referendum to be held later this month could force an early ouster.