Approximately 34,000 US troops remain in Iraq, the “vast majority” of which are due to exit the country by December, a US general said Thursday.
“As I look at the plan, I think it’s clear to me that by the time we get to about mid-December or so, the vast majority of the US forces in Iraq — we plan to have them withdrawn from Iraq by that time,” said Major General Thomas Spoehr, deputy commanding general for the US force in Iraq.
The US now has 12 bases left in the country, compared to 505 bases during the height of George W. Bush’s surge in 2007. Specific information about the logistics of the withdrawal are not being released, but “there are trucks and planes and people moving very quickly at a high rate of speed throughout Iraq to execute our commitments,” Spoehr said.
Still, this withdrawal is recognized by experts as more of a drawdown than a full departure. The reduced level of troops is possible in tandem with an expanded diplomatic mission and a large presence of military contractors. The “normal relationship” Obama referenced when announcing the withdrawal is of the kind that generalizes throughout the Middle East region, namely one characterized by large packages of economic and military aid to abusive governments and armies in exchange for conformity to US interests, as understood by Washington national security planners.
Additionally, the US has announced a surge in much of the rest of the Middle East even as they claim to withdraw from Iraq. Troops exiting Iraq are going south towards Kuwait, where over 23,000 troops are already stationed.
The Obama administration is working to “expand military ties with the six nations in the Gulf Cooperation Council — Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Oman. The Pentagon estimates that perhaps more than 40,000 troops will be stationed across the Middle East as they attempt to foster a new “security architecture” for the Persian Gulf in order to maintain military dominance and a league of obedient and dictatorial client states.