US officials may be outraged at the notion that the US might some day soon not be occupying Iraq, but for Iraqis the idea is less scary than exciting, something they’ve been hoping for throughout years of ugly civil war and massive death tolls.
In the government and on the streets there is almost no support for a continued occupation, particularly with the Sadrist faction promising a return to insurgency if they tried to stay. A handful of Iraqi officials expressed concern over what post-US Iraq might mean for their futures but this appears to be a tiny minority.
“They were part of the reason behind the ethnic and sectarian tension,” noted Saad Muttalbi, and indeed there seems reason to believe that a lot of the unrest, particularly among Shi’ite militias, is simply going to disappear the minute the US troops leave.
For the Obama Administration, the hope was always to keep “trainers” in the nation, but Iraq’s government stood firm on demands for blanket immunity that would give those “trainers” the same status as combat troops. It was this line in the sand that forced the US pullout, and the hope for a day when US troops don’t have the run of the nation which convinced Iraq to finally settle on refusing this immunity.