Pulling U.S. forces out of Iraq will improve the security situation there, Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi claimed Sunday, days after Iraqi leaders agreed to negotiate a possible post-2011 occupation. Hashemi, a Sunni Muslim and one of two vice presidents whose positions are largely ceremonial, said a continued American military presence in Iraq would be “a problem, not a solution.”
Hashemi’s statements seem to recognize that only full sovereignty will make Iraq safe and independent. Without explicitly mentioning Iran, Hashemi said “The withdrawal of American combat forces will lead to an improvement in the security situation in Iraq by calming the concerns of neighbouring countries that felt threatened,” perhaps upset with the influence Shiite Iran has gained in Iraq of late.
An additional issue is the political faction within Iraq linked to Moqtada al-Sadr, who has promised to not only reject an extension of U.S. troops in Iraq, but to target troops, including “trainers,” as fair game for attack. Clearly, only a full withdrawal of U.S. troops will prevent an upscale in violence and pacify Iraqis who refuse to continue to be militarily occupied.
U.S. leaders, desperate to continue to occupy Iraq to solidify dominance over their newfound client state, have been pressuring the Iraqi leadership for months on an extension. Negotiations are ongoing over whether and how many of the 47,000 remaining troops will stay. Unresolved issues include the size of the force, its responsibilities, the duration of its stay, and whether its members would be immune from Iraqi prosecution.
But Hashemi insisted that Iraqi security assistance going forward does not have to come from the U.S. “I hope in the near future,” he said, “Iraq will be open to Russia, southeast Asia and the European Union. There are many countries that have technology which is comparable to what is available in the US, and this technology competes with American technology at lower prices.”